Donan Receives Second FAA UAV Exemption

June 16, 2015

Donan, one of the first two forensic investigation firms to receive an FAA exemption for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones)—has received a second exemption for its fleet of multirotor drones.

Donan now has FAA authorization to fly both its fixed-wing and multirotor UAVs for property inspections; the company joins top 10 carriers State Farm, USAA, and AIG in this distinction.

“We’re really pleased that we can now offer our clients both fixed-wing and multirotor UAV investigations. This technology enables us to capture better images, process data in more valuable ways, and do it all faster and more safely. Drone technology is truly transformative to the work we do and the services we provide, so we’re proud to be among those leading the way in our industry,” said Lyle Donan, president & CEO of Donan.

Donan received an initial FAA exemption on May 5, 2015, for their fixed-wing Sensefly eBee. The second exemption authorizes commercial use for its fleet of multirotor drones, strategically located throughout the United States, which includes the DJI Phantom 2, DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, and DJI Phantom 3. The exemption will enable Donan to utilize their multirotor drones to assist in forensic engineering and fire investigation applications, including roof and structure inspections, as well as fire scene documentation.

While fixed-wing drones are ideal for collecting data over large areas, multirotor drones are a better solution for single property investigations and for instances when it is necessary to document very small details, such as in hail investigations. Quadcopters move similar to a helicopter which makes them highly maneuverable and allows them to get close to surfaces where they can hover in place to capture high-definition video and photos. These quadcopters can also be equipped with special infrared cameras for thermal imaging.

The FAA is approving exemption requests on a case by case basis until final regulations are released. While current exemptions are more limiting than the final rules are expected to be, they do outline safety and protocols that approved companies are required to follow.

“All of the exemptions granted by the FAA come with restrictions related to where UAVs can be flown and require that the operator be a licensed pilot. Donan is fully prepared to utilize this technology within those limits and we’re looking forward to being a resource for clients so they can determine how to best put this technology to use,” said Duane Battcher, managing director for Donan.

Battcher says clients have several options for utilizing Donan for UAV inspections, including single property flights, pilot programs and catastrophe response with exclusive and collaborative options.

Since receiving the initial exemption, the company has already deployed the eBee for an explosion investigation where they provided aerial photos and an orthomosaic so the client could analyze the damage and the debris field.

The company is currently working with several additional UAV manufacturers to evaluate technology and capabilities that are constantly advancing. The company anticipates submitting additional exemption requests for UAVs with specialized capabilities.

Donan provides nationwide coverage from 61 offices and employs more than 260 professionals from coast to coast including experts in forensic engineering and component testing, fire investigation and HVAC forensics.

Source: Donan

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