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Services | FAA Sanctioned Aerial Imaging

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…BE’s Kevin Schnebly flying a drone? Yes, it is!

In May this year, Kevin passed his FAA Part 107 sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) Pilots Test to be able to fly drones. The drones will be used by Bailey Edward for aerial imagery of our projects. Since receiving his FAA certification, Kevin has already completed two flights: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Altgeld Hall and the General Services Administration’s Urbana Courthouse.

For a large, historic building like Altgeld Hall, aerial imaging provides many benefits to our clients:
  • • Quick access to hard to reach places | Aerial imaging allows our firm to document more of the building faster. Taking images every 2-5 seconds or using video, the drone can record the existing conditions of a building from multiple angles and identify areas of major deterioration.
  • • Documentation of Complex Character-Defining Elements | Compared with modern buildings, historic buildings feature more ornate details, craftsmanship, and decoration, as well as utilizing more materials in their construction. Aerial imaging provides access to more of these elements to identify the visual and tangible aspects that provide the building’s distinguishing character; identify any areas that may need additional testing or specialized tradespeople for repair or restoration; and diagnose any previous work that may have damaged the building’s character.
  • • Potential cost and time savings | Being able to ‘see the unseen’ places on the building acts as a method of pre-survey planning. By identifying areas of major deterioration, we can use this information to order and stage lifts for physical examination and testing on the worst portions of the building, thereby preventing unforeseen added costs, change orders, and schedule delays later in the project.

Benefits to aerial imagery extend beyond historic building documentation when we add in additional services like Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) scanning. FLIR is an imaging technology that senses infrared radiation. These cameras can detect, capture, and measure temperature differences over large surfaces, like the Urbana Courthouse.

In addition to the benefits listed above, adding a FLIR scan:
  • • Identifies inefficiencies in the building envelope | Poor or inadequate insulation, water infiltration, deteriorated sealants, air leakage at windows, etc. can be detected by a FLIR scan, quickly identifying where the building’s energy efficiency can be improved.
  • • More accurate information | By combining the scan with the drone, we can get better angles on the wall surface thereby providing more accurate information than if the scan were performed from the ground.
  • • Quick capture of data and images | High definition pictures occur at the same time as the FLIR scan occurs, providing one-to-one comparison points for our architects and engineers and eliminating redundancy in work.

Both our staff and clients have recognized the value in aerial imaging services, so much so that we are already looking to incorporate photogrammetry; the use of photography in surveying and mapping to measure distances between objects. Instead of only setting up our laser scanning equipment in multiple locations, photogrammetry software would allow us to easily create 3D models of existing buildings. By flying multiple passes around a building, we can obtain many HD images that can be used to triangulate different elements on the building’s surface. These images can then be exported to create a photo-realistic 3D rendering. The BE staff would then have a detailed 3D representation of the building to reference throughout the document production phase of the project.

For more information on aerial imagery, please contact Kevin Schnebly.