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Our New Eye In The Sky Drone Allows Us To See The Big Picture

Thursday, June 27th, 2019
Johnson Engineering is now offering aerial drone services to our clients, enabling us to see entire projects from above. 

Having our own in-house drone pilot allows us to create cost-effective, high-quality drone-based aerial images and video, data for analysis, surveying, aerial mapping, and more. David Isley of the firm’s environmental group was the first to receive the required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 107-Certified Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pilot certification.

Our drones use a 12-megapixel camera mounted on a three-axis gimbal, which provides the stability and resolution required for high quality imagery and map production. Drone-based imagery and videos can be used for a variety of applications in the engineering, environmental, construction, mining, and agricultural industries. Examples include:

  • Project and construction progression aerial imagery on a regularly scheduled basis;
  • Documentation of pre-construction versus post-construction property conditions for client/contractor protection and liability matters;
  • Accurate, cost-effective vegetation and habitat mapping of large properties, sites with difficult terrain, or where site access is limited;
  • Documentation of damage from emergencies or natural disasters, such as wildfires or shoreline, canal or lake bank erosion, to expedite Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursements and support agency permit applications;
  • Real-time assessments of utilities, mining, silviculture, and agricultural project status;
  • Project planning using low level aerial imagery unavailable from traditional sources; and
  • Marketing or advertising of recently completed projects.

Drone services are currently being used for the Lee County Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed widening of Corkscrew Road from Ben Hill Griffin Boulevard to Alico Road. The drone-based aerial imagery obtained for this project provides a detailed and accurate depiction of pre-construction conditions within the 4.5-mile roadway corridor. Since the project is near the Southwest Florida International Airport (SWFIA), flight authorizations were handled automatically through the “Autopilot” application, which is directly linked to the FAA air traffic control system and maintains real time authorizations from 24 airports throughout the state of Florida. The mission totaled nearly 10 miles and over 1,000 photographs were taken at an average altitude of 250 feet to produce the final map. Additional drone missions are planned in August or September 2019 to document current drainage and water level conditions along the roadway corridor during the wet season prior to construction.

We recently employed drone-based aerial photography to monitor the progress of the King’s Bay Restoration Project in Crystal River, Florida. The drone obtained captivating low-level aerial photographs of the native aquatic tape grass restoration, which effectively illustrated the monitoring methods performed by our team to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), who is providing funding for this environmental restoration project.

Our Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) department is also currently using the drone on the Lee County Division of Natural Resources Nalle Grade Hydrologic Restoration project in North Fort Myers, Florida. Due to the relatively large project size, drone-based aerial imagery provides a more efficient and cost-effective means to monitor the monthly construction progression and verify contractor pay applications. A monthly aerial photo of the entire site more effectively illustrates the project status in a fraction of the time compared to numerous traditional ground-based photos or a narrative description.

If you’re interested in adding drone-based aerial or video production services to your existing project or have a new project that would benefit from drone-based aerial imagery or videos, please contact your Johnson Engineering project manager or our Marketing Director, Juli Kern, at (239) 334-0046 or [email protected], to discuss how we can best serve your specific needs.