Use of technology provided swift visual findings to supplement in-depth engineer inspection
As the Federal Aviation Administration celebrates Drone Safety Awareness Week, Nov. 16 – 22, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet deployed the use of drones on the Brent Spence Bridge to aid inspectors collect preliminary visual inspection images following the bridge closure on Nov. 11. Drones were brought in to aid inspection efforts before inspectors could access the bridge due to the large amounts of debris.
"The Cabinet has embraced the use of drones to provide another set of eyes to quickly and safely inspect structures for routine work and emergency events," said Transportation Secretary Jim Gray.
KYTC drone pilots and drone teams from Palmer Engineering and Burgess and Niple were on-site at the bridge to deploy drones to capture high-quality footage. Although only a portion of the bridge has fire damage, the entire bridge was inspected to check for any residual impacts. Drones flew the entire truss of the bridge to check for steel member alignment, including areas inside and outside the heat-affected zone. They provided up-close imaging as well as full views of the bridge.
"Drones give us the ability to access difficult to reach areas, give us a way to initially assess the extent of damage, and help us see the structure as a whole. We've used drones in a variety of ways to supplement bridge inspection," said KYTC Chief Bridge Inspector James Edmunds.
The use of drones will continue as repairs begin to document inspections conducted by rope, man lift, snooper and other inspection practices. Over the past two years, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has expanded its drone use statewide to aid in inspection efforts.
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