Global engineering and infrastructure advisory company, Aurecon, has been awarded a Remote Operating Certificate (ROC) by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. This makes Aurecon the first engineering consultancy in the country to obtain a ROC and become a registered drone operator.

Richard Matchett, Aurecon digital practice leader, South Africa, says: “We have been looking forward to this milestone ever since the legislation came into effect in 2015. Now that we have obtained the ROC, we are ready to leverage the technology alongside our traditional engineering activities to gather richer, more comprehensive data from our projects.”

Matchett commented on the administrative regulations directing the operation of drones in South Africa. “Being a registered drone operator in South Africa requires us to adhere to operational guidelines and legislation similar to those for manned aviation. It requires a high level of responsibility.

“We have established a very capable team in Aurecon to oversee the operations and ensure that we maintain strict operational control and fly safely on our projects,” says Matchett. Aurecon will be rolling out its drones, manned by its own engineers, on various project sites throughout the coming year.

Matchett says: “Our team will be using the captured imagery from our drone operations to create everything from 3D models that inform design decisions to time-lapse videos showing the progress of projects and project milestones.”

Some of the initial projects that have already been earmarked for drone image capturing include civil engineering installations infrastructure projects such as water treatment works, quarry sites, mines, and plant installations in industrial areas.

Upon successful completion of these, the Drone Operations Management Team at Aurecon plans to expand its drone site inspections to include tower inspections and plant installations, as well as other projects that require overhead aerial project site photographs for record keeping, progress reporting, design solutions and maintenance advice.

Amandla Tokwe, capital programme assurance associate at Aurecon, says: “Deployment of drone technology will enable savings both in time and resources. At the same time it will provide real-time, efficient, independent assurance to project teams, oversight committees and owners residing over multiple projects or construction sites.

“This will greatly enhance Aurecon’s ability to bring client projects to life,” he concludes.

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