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Providing Our Clients with Geospatial Service Upgrades by Air and by Water


By Vernen Lee, Vice President, Survey Project Manager

At Merrick, we’re continuously working to build on our expertise and provide the best value to our clients. Our Geospatial team is constantly proving this, especially in our work by air and in water. In recognition of this, the Merrick team recently was honored by a client, receiving their highest award in innovation for our use of drones on the client’s project.

By Air

As part of one of our most recent drone program upgrades, Merrick can now deploy commercial grade aircraft. In September, we’ll fly the DJI Inspire 2 equipped with Zenmuse X7 on a major pipeline system in Alaska.

The Alaskan landscape can be rugged, and the corridor we’ll deploy in is both long and wide. With a flight speed of nearly 60 mph and a range of 4.5 miles, Inspire 2 will let us fly faster and farther, allowing us to capture the area of interest with maximum detail. Inspire two will be paired with the X7—a compact Super 35 camera that offers 6K CinemaDNG and 5.2K Apple ProRes with support of RAW burst shooting at 20 fps and 24 MP stills. In addition, the added thrust power combats wind speed, and an operating temperature between -4° to 104° F gives us four seasons of operation. Overall, this upgrade offers a significant service improvement for our client.

Our drone program follows FAA Part 107 Regulations for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Commercial Use. For example, some of the guidelines we must follow are included below:

  • To operate the controls of an sUAS, you need a remote pilot airman certificate with an sUAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such certificate.
  • Aircraft must weigh less than 50 pounds
  • Flight operations during daylight hours
  • Aircraft must be operated within line of sight
  • Aircraft must have anti-collision lighting
  • Maximum altitude is 400 feet above ground or higher if the aircraft remains within 400 feet of a structure
  • Maximum aircraft speed 100 mph
  • No flights over people who are not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure or not inside a covered stationary vehicle
  • No operations from a moving vehicle are allowed unless flying over a sparsely populated area
  • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without Air Traffic Control (ATC) permission. Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace requires ATC approval.
  • Respecting Privacy – The FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography.

More information on the FAA Regulations can be found here.

By Water

Moving from air to water, Merrick also provides a new solution for bathymetric surveys. Bathymetric surveys measure the depth of a water body. Our pipeline system project is buried below 34 major rivers and nearly 500 streams. A good measurement of the water body floor allows for an important calculation of depth of cover to top of pipeline. Merrick will use the CEE HydroSystems Unmanned Survey Vehicle (USV) for rivers and floodplain monitoring. CEE-USV is a remotely operated vessel equipped with dual prop shafts, removeable bow for transport, GPS GNSS single beam echo sounder, live video camera and onboard data management. The fully loaded vessel weighs 105 pounds with a maximum run time of five hours at 10 knots.

Contact us to be directed to a specialist on the above services or any other service we offer.


DJI Inspire 2 Photo Credit:

CEE-USV Photo Credit:

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