Under a new business partnership, Rice Associates, Inc. will enhance its surveying and photogrammetry capabilities by utilizing the unmanned aircraft of fellow Virginia company Navigator CS, LLC.

“We are excited about the possibilities that drone technology has to offer,” says Charlie Rice, president of Rice Associates, Inc. “By teaming up with Navigator CS, we will be able to safely, quickly, efficiently and economically obtain aerial imaging that supports our surveying and mapping projects, especially in applications where the operational features of drones make them the technology of choice.”

Under the federal agency’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) exemptions process, Navigator CS was granted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Section 333 Exemption No. 11658 on May 22 of this year. “The conditions and limitations imposed by the FAA on civil operators of drones widely limit the application of unmanned aircraft,” explains Paul Beckwith, president of Navigator CS, LLC. “We are limited with respect to when, where and how we can fly, so the first thing we do when meeting with prospective customers is ensure the project objectives can be met within the boundaries of our FAA exemption, our Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) and the operating features of our drones. Sometimes, due to operational restrictions, the use of drones will be impractical or will require a special COA. If the latter, we can request special authorization to fly in restricted (no-fly) zones.”

Rice Associates is a geospatial services firm providing in-house photogrammetry, LiDAR scanning, building information modeling, conventional surveying and subsurface utility designation and mapping. The firm was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Manassas, Va., and maintains branch offices in Richmond and Virginia Beach. The firm offers a broad range of surveying and mapping services to a diverse base of public and private clients.

Navigator CS, LLC is a disabled veteran-owned small business with headquarters in Leesburg, Va., performing engineering and management consulting services in support of the construction, real estate, property management and information security industries. Navigator is the operator of UAS equipped to conduct aerial filming and photography, which can be used to quickly create high-quality GIS products.