Commercial drones are working in Juneau and across Alaska

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) “It’s much more than taking pictures from the air.”

    Dan Hubert, Co-Founder, of Alaska Interior Aerial, spoke on what drones can do in the Capital City at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

    He said his company has worked in construction, real estate, insurance, film making, telecommunications, journalism, and other areas.  He is also a professional pilot and an avid photographer.

    He told the Chamber that as a photographer it can be frustrating when flying around looking to take a picture.  He said many times the best photos are ones outside the aircraft and that is where drones come in.

    Juneau is divided into different sectors from the Federal Aviation Administration.  There is also limits on where drones can fly. 

    Range and coverage area are limited.  Drones travel between five to 30 miles per hour.  The battery life is only 15-30 minutes. 

    Privacy issues also pose a problem.  The FAA has many restrictions on air space.   It must be operated within a line of sight of the user.

    “There are special hoops to fly in at night and the weather can be an issue.”

    Hubert said the state has considered regulations on drones.  Most of them deal with privacy.

    He said there are existing regulations that deal with cameras and a drone is just a camera.  “Existing law addresses this already.  If somebody was flying too close to my home I would file a report with the FAA and the police.”

    The advantages of drones are they’re much cheaper than airplanes and helicopters.  It can be deployed in minutes.   The data collected by drones can be used quickly, mostly within a day or two, sometimes within minutes.

    Drones also have less impact on people and animals on the ground than the average aircraft.  You can also program it to run at a constant altitude that is difficult or impossible for an airplane.

    It also poses low risk to people and property on the ground.   There is also no live crew on board to worry about.  Liability insurance is much cheaper than that for an airplane or helicopter.

    Hubert also worked as an air taxi pilot and worked many places in Alaska and the pacific north west.  He is also an electrical engineer and a licensed Attorney in Alaska, Texas and other states.

    Alaska Interior Air, was founded in 2016 and is based in Juneau.  It is a drone services company focused on commercial aerial photography.

    Much of the work done in Juneau is for local mines.    They also did a project for the CBJ Mendenhall waste water treatment plant.

    He said an area of growth for drones will be GIS.

    He also showed off some cool videos of the Mendenhall Glacier, Gastineau Channel, the Juneau Ice Field, the governor’s mansion and other Juneau locations, filmed by drones.

    Hubert said he thinks drones could be a great tool for search and rescue operations. 

    He said deliveries of newspapers and pizzas by drones are not going to happen anytime soon.

    For information on the company go to this website:   www.Last frontier aerial.com   

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