Droning on at New Bern City Hall

New Bern’s City Hall was buzzed for an hour and half Wednesday by a small drone inspecting the roof.

The city’s insurance carrier hired Skyview Aerial Solutions of Charleston, S.C., to inspect the roof of City Hall for missing and damaged shingles caused by Hurricane Matthew Oct. 7-8.

Matt Montanye, New Bern public works director, said the insurance company is using drone technology to come up with a detailed plan to repair the roof. Once the inspection is finished, the city will get a report and determine whether the insurance covers the damage, he said.

A number of missing shingles are noticeable from the ground in one area where there is a small leak that drips rainwater inside the building on the third floor, Montanye said.

Using a drone was a good way to get a better look, he said.

“There is no good way to get to that height so the insurance company hired them,” Montanye said. “It’s a very new technology and this is one of those times when it has been a benefit.”

Tom Fernandez, CEO of Skyview Aerial Solutions, said in a telephone interview Thursday that some of the reasons his company was hired to do the inspection were because its method was faster, more economical and safer.

“The insurance company looked at the cost of hiring an individual to repel on the roof but the cost would have been very high,” Fernandez said. “Though I consider our cost high ($300 an hour), I’ve been told it is significantly lower than human repeling.”

Fernandez said unlike someone working on a steep roof three stories high, if the drone crashes he doesn’t have to pay workers compensation.

Montanye said he expects the city will get updates of the drone inspection in the coming weeks.

Fernandez agreed with Montanye that the New Bern City Hall roof was missing a lot of shingles.

“I’m no expert but it certainly requires repairs,” he said. “It’s a beautiful building. I’m always bragging about how beautiful Charleston is, but New Bern is just as beautiful. I’m jealous of New Bern.”

Fernandez and his three partners started Skyview Aerial Solutions nearly three years ago. At that time, they all had day jobs. Now all they do is drone photography and video work, predominantly for construction, development, land and property.

“We are also starting to see a lot more engineering jobs,” he said.

One of the company’s largest drones, a DJI Inspire that is about 2 or 3 square feet, can use three cameras, including infrared that can show water damage to a building or where heat is escaping, Fernandez said.

Since starting Skyview Aerial Solutions, Fernandez said, the drone business has quickly grown.

“When we started nearly three years ago, there were only four or five people in South Carolina doing it,” he said. “Now, I’ve stopped counting after 107. There’s one or two new companies each month just popping up.”

Fernandez said his drone business now works on five to seven jobs per day using two teams. One team photographs and inspects commercial, residential and industrial real estate. The other team photographs and inspects large scale construction and engineering projects.

It took an hour and a half to inspect the City Hall roof, which caught the attention of passer-byers and people looking from windows as Fernandez piloted the drone and his partner, Tom Lucey, kept an eye on it, making sure pedestrians were safe.

Source: http://www.newbernsj.com/news/20170112/droning-on-at-new-bern-city-hall

Comments are closed.