For the past two years SANDIS has been advocating and utilizing sUAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems), otherwise known as drones, to perform surveying work more safely and efficiently.  When it was announced that the FAA will be enforcing new rules this August regulating the safe use of sUAS we paid close attention.  A few of the recent rules for the operation of sUAS include:

  • Craft weight must not exceed 55 lbs
  • Craft must be operated in a manner than does not interfere with any manned aircraft
  • Must be operated within “Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the person operating the aircraft”
  • Operation of an sUAS now require a remote pilot airman certificate (or an unlicensed operator under the supervision of someone with a remote airman certificate

Also, sUAS can only fly over people who are involved with the project utilizing the drone and only if they are inside a structure or a stationary vehicle.  Fortunately, at the beginning of our sUAS program our leadership had the foresight to research previously established guidelines and then enact safety restrictions before the first take off.  So, while we pride ourselves in using the most innovative, enhanced tools, we greatly value safety and efficiency.  All of the previously listed rules and more have been in practice since day one of our sUAS program.  We will continue to honor our commitment to safety and accountability to our clients and staff by always staying at the forefront of new FAA regulations.

sUAS affords us the mobility to gather detailed data from previously inaccessible regions.  We have used sUAS on numerous occasions to survey both large and small rural areas in many cases where hazardous materials and unsafe structures present. SANDIS will always be striving for better ways to deliver the precise data needed to design or build more complex projects with better coordination and better accuracy.    

For more information about our sUAS/UAV surveying program contact Andrew Chafer at 408.636.0900 or