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January 8, 2020
Drones to the Rescue?
A drone deployed to inspect the brick and terra cotta facade of a high school.


In a recent Op-Ed, Queens city councilman, Paul Vallone and Carlo Scissura, CEO of the New York Building Congress argue in favor of using drones to facilitate the City’s mandated facade inspections. This would be a reversal of years of City prohibitions against flying drones within the five boroughs—and none too soon. We applaud this initiative and our FAA-certified pilots look forward to giving our squadron of four drones a good shakedown within the city limits.

Drones should be considered a powerful complement to traditional methods of facade examination such as physical inspection from scaffolding or lifts and another means of achieving the ideal goal of 100% FISP compliance. We think they’re best deployed to provide an overview of a facade so areas needing greater scrutiny and hands-on inspection can be identified.

L: A section of a tower captured by drone. R: Detail showing a masonry defect which would subsequently be inspected and sounded by hand.


Drones have several other potential benefits:

  • Providing close-up and high-definition examinations of a facade
  • Capturing a comprehensive record of a facade
  • Offering camera angles not possible with ground-based photography (e.g. the tops of sills)
  • Offering a relatively inexpensive alternative to fully rigging buildings—especially those with complex envelopes or areas impractical or cost-prohibitive to rig.

Properly piloted and paired with other tools and technology, drones are a means of streamlining an inspection program and a catalyst for a more proactive approach. We look forward to this airborne upgrade to our facade inspection tool kit.

For more on drones, fly over here.

SUPERSTRUCTURES Engineers + Architects

14 Wall Street, 25th Floor, New York, NY 10005
(212) 505 1133


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