The use unmanned aerial vehicles at mines is taking off in Northern Nevada as operators apply the technology to tasks such as surveying and inspections. The Federal Aviation Administration made way for the commercial use of drones, such as work at mines, when it updated commercial operation rules for small UAVs effective August 2016. Instead of requiring a pilot’s license, the federal government allows an operator to pass an aeronautical knowledge test to be able to fly commercially under certain restrictions.
Warren “Bum” Rapp, a retired military aviator, is at the controls of Northern Nevada’s emerging program to develop commercial applications for unmanned aircraft commonly called “drones.” The program he heads up is focused on business uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. That can mean anything from helping map potential mining acreage to improving agricultural concerns to nighttime aerial monitoring of wildfires.