Blog written by: Justin Clemmer, CrossFlight Pilot

Hurricane Irma brought widespread devastation to the state of Florida. Homes, businesses, roadways, and industries all across the state were impacted by the storm’s intense winds and floodwaters. In the wake of Irma, a fairly new kind of technology is being used in the relief and recovery efforts – drones. Drones are capable of producing high-quality aerial videos and pictures that are highly beneficial in operations such as search and rescue, powerline inspection, and building documentation.

 Cell Tower Inspection by commercial drones

Cell Tower Inspection by commercial drones

When a wide variety of agencies sought authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones in the affected areas, the FAA responded quickly, issuing a total of 132 airspace authorizations as of today to ensure safety in drone operation.

Irma Images IMG_4586.JPG

The Air National Guard as well as the private sector has been using drones to perform area surveys, assess disaster-stricken areas, and conduct inspections. Drones have been used by Florida Power and Light to play a significant role in helping to restore electricity for its 4.4 million customers, surveying parts of the state still not accessible by vehicles.

Irma Images IMG_4587.JPG

The stellar cooperation by local, state, and federal authorities has been cited by FPL, and this is only the beginning. In a speech given at the InterDrone conference last week, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta summed up the importance of drone operations to Irma and Harvey recovery operations saying,

“Essentially, every drone that flew meant that a traditional aircraft was not putting an additional strain on an already fragile system. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.”

The use of drones will continue to provide much needed assistance in future disaster relief and recovery efforts. As the FAA continues to monitor the advancement of this growing drone industry, companies like CrossFlight Sky Solutions will continue to be on the cutting edge of this quickly advancing technology.