Michael Baker International receives FAA certification to operate unmanned aircraft

This Lancaster MIK III-IF, a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system, is in the fleet of Michael Baker International.

This Lancaster MIK III-IF, a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system, is in the fleet of Michael Baker International.

Michael Baker International, a global company in engineering, consulting, planning, technical and professional services with an office in Reno, received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate several types of fixed-wing and vertical take-off and landing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Baker is one of the first in its industry to receive the certification.

Aaron R. Smith, geographic information systems professional in the Reno office of Michael Baker, is hoping to see the crafts put to work in this region,

“We have that capability to do work (with UAS vehicles) here if we have a client who wants to do it,” Smith said. “Not many companies can do that legally.”

Smith said the Reno office has a focus on land surveying and mapping. AT&T is a major client.

By deploying UAS technology, Michael Baker can now capture robust, real-time aerial photographs and video as well as conduct aerial mapping for its clients that need surveys or inspections of a site.

Michael Baker’s UAS fleet includes the Lancaster MIK III-IF, a fixed-wing vehicle, and vertical lift vehicles Phantom 3 and Phantom 2VisPlus.

“Integrating our FAA-certified unmanned aircraft program with our other advanced data collection capabilities allows us to take data collection to an entirely new level for our clients,” Robert Hanson, senior vice president and the firm’s geospatial practice leader, said in a written statement. “Through our licensed pilots and certified operators, we are better able to gather data more safely and efficiently, which represents immediate short- and long-term value.”

Using UAS capabilities provides:

■ Better data capture: Operators can adjust still and video cameras on the aircraft to capture images at almost any angle, which enhances the quality of data captured from the same geographic location at different points in time. Because the UAS data provides a full picture of a site or a building, clients often do not need to order additional studies or surveys, which can contribute to cost savings. Safer: UAS enhances safety for workers who would normally need to climb to certain heights to conduct inspections or gather data that can now be done by the aircraft.

More flexible and scalable: Michael Baker can rapidly deploy its fleet of small UAS and regionally based licensed pilots to a single site, or it can operate the systems simultaneously at a number of sites.

The company recently demonstrated the technology on several projects, including facilities condition assessments at a former children’s hospital and crop health assessments for agriculture.

Michael Baker International is a leading global provider of engineering and consulting services, which include planning, architectural, environmental, construction, program management, and full life cycle support services as well as information technology and communications services and solutions.

The company has more than 5,000 employees in more than 90 locations across the U.S. and internationally. To learn more visit www.mbakerintl.com.


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