Eversource says the FAA has given it permission to use a drone to inspect a substation and systems in downtown Nashua, around Bridge Street.
This seems incredibly sensible – quiet and no less safe than doing it with a helicopter, certainly.
I suspect that Eversource really wants to use drones to inspect long-distance transmission lines, to save big bucks from manned aircraft. That would require flying them beyond the line of sight of the operator, however, which the FAA is still nervous about.
This gives me an excuse to point to my favorite drones-over-Nashua story, from 2014 when the legal status was even more confused: Check it out here.
The video is eye-popping: Downtown Nashua as you’ve never seen it, the cupola and golden eagle atop City Hall slowly coming into view while the camera rises into the sky, the sun shining on Main Street below. It’s a clever advertisement for Nashua, which is why it’s featured prominently on the website NashuaDares.com, which will eventually be part of the city’s new branding program.
Unfortunately, it’s also technically illegal, since the video was shot with a camera-mounted drone. The Federal Aviation Administration forbids “civilian companies” from using drones for commercial purposes without a special certificate, which is almost never given to anybody but research universities and law-enforcement agencies.
The video, which was paid for by city taxpayers, puts Nashua in the middle of a wide-ranging debate about the proper use of what are officially called Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
In an unrelated note, the state government shot down (metaphorically) my request to use drones to photograph ongoing work returning gold leaf to the state house dome. I guess they had visions of clumsy piloting sending an unmanned vehicle crashing into such a historic structure. Darn it.