Woolpert receives approval from PennDOT to use UAS for state projects



International architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm Woolpert has become the first provider to receive approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to use UAS for state projects.

On July 2, Woolpert had surveying, mapping and geospatial professionals complete PennDOT's UAS training, which is part of the agency’s certification process. UAS operators are also required to obtain a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate through the FAA.

“As we continue to enhance our service offerings in Pennsylvania, we found the training extremely valuable in gaining a better understanding of how PennDOT wants to use UAS and the expectations they have for safe and successful operations,” says Woolpert Geospatial Practice Leader Tom Ruschkewicz, who attended the training.

Another participant in the training was Woolpert UAS Technology Manager Aaron Lawrence, who is a certified PennDOT UAS operator. Lawrence says that the certification that Woolpert earned is “an example of the multiple state and national efforts underway to safely integrate UAS into national airspace.”

“The commercial use of drones is moving in the right direction, as evidenced by the many required UAS qualifications,” Lawrence says.

“We hope to see these safety and proficiency standards become universal; however, it is important to understand that each state has its own regional and environmental concerns. In the meantime, we at Woolpert will continue to ensure our staff is proficient in UAS applications in general and in those specific to each agency’s needs. It’s what we do.”

Woolpert notes that in 2014, it became the first surveying and mapping firm to receive approval from the FAA to fly UAS commercially in designated airspace through its Section 333 exemption.

Since then, Woolpert has used UAS to support a number of different projects. Having invested in various UAS platforms, Woolpert currently employs 18 FAA Part 107 certified pilots.

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