As the number of firms approved to commercially operate unmanned aircraft systems in the U.S. increases, so do these companies' UAS demands, leading some to seek experienced European manufacturers or partner with automated-flight firms.
Getting approval under Section 333 of the 2012 Federal Aviation Administration's Modernization and Reform Act isn't the easiest thing, says Russ Metzler, director of UAS services at Asymmetric Technologies, Columbus, Ohio. "It's not egregious but a little frustrating," he says. "You search the 333 document and find the parts that apply to you and justify why you can meet them. Then, you present to the FAA why you are a low risk." Then, you wait, he says. The service-disabled, veteran-owned firm got its exemption to do bridge inspection, but its niche is infrastructure inspection in a broader sense, looking into power, civil and dam inspection says Brian Borkowski, Asymmetric's president and CEO. "I'm not trying to replace inspectors but, rather, give them a tool in their toolbox," he says.