Michael Baker International utilizes drones to gather runway improvement data at ATL

Michael Baker International has partnered with the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) to use Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, to inspect runway conditions, the firm said.

The mission was the first of its kind to use drones on the airfield of an international airport in the United States during daily airport operations. The use of UAS to collect information on the condition of the runway pavement provides a large amount of data for analysis and can help document the runway for future rehabilitation and improvement decisions.

The Michael Baker UAS team used its Topcon Falcon 8 aircraft to conduct the drone flight in mid-March and surveyed more than 3,000 linear feet of runway. The mission was conducted on the international Runway 9L/27R and was completed in less than 20 minutes, gathering approximately 630 photos of the airfield.

During this and future missions, the team can generate contours, orthomosiac imagery, RGB 3-D textured mesh and a digital terrain model (DTM). This data can then be analyzed by the Michael Baker and airport teams using engineering software such as Autodesk, ESRI and Bentley, and can help determine future needs to improve and maintain the runway conditions.

Michael Baker International is a global provider of engineering and consulting services, which include planning, architectural, environmental, construction, program management, and full life-cycle support services as well as information technology and communications services and solutions. It provides its comprehensive range of services and solutions in support of US federal, state, and municipal governments, foreign allied governments, and a wide range of commercial clients. The company has more than 6,000 employees in more than 90 locations across the US and internationally.