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Antigo-Based Drones, Jetliners Share

Jumbo jetliners recently shared their runways with the latest—and smallest—in flying technology at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica.

And an Antigo-based company played a key role.

Cameron Berg and Alan Horzewski of Unmanned Systems Inc., located at the Langlade County Airport, recently traveled to Kingston on a mission using the drone—technically known as UAS, or unmanned aerial system—and its LiDAR laser surveying system.

Only a handful of people have been able to fly a commercial drone at an international airport, Berg, pilot and director of media for Unmanned Systems Inc., explained. It was a rare opportunity.

Unmanned Systems was contracted by a French survey company bidding to extend the runway at Kingston and build up the harbor.

They needed an accurate survey and discovered we had a LiDAR system that could do the job accurately and quickly, Berg said.

After getting the mission approved through the Jamaican version of the Federal Aviation Administration, Berg and Horzewski coordinated the flights with the Jamaican air traffic controllers. It helped that both men are pilots and could easily understand the chatter between the tower and jetliners.

We executed the mission between the flight windows of the commercial airliners, Horzewski said. We only needed to do two flights, with about 45 minutes of actual flying time.

A ground survey, using traditional equipment, would have taken weeks.

The success of the survey means that there will likely be more trips to the Caribbean for the Unmanned Systems pilots in the future. The area is mountainous and difficult to survey by traditional methods and developers are eager. Utility companies also need to map out the best, most precise routes for power lines.

It’s making some of these projects much for feasible and easy to do, Berg said. With LiDAR, we can provide them a better 3D image of the ground. We can actually see through the trees to get to the ground.

We have optimism, Horzewski added.

An Unmanned Systems Inc. drone, equipped with LiDAR awaits take-off at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica. It is very rare that drones are allowed to be used in international airport settings.

Source: Antigo Daily Journal