Federal Agency Deploying UAS Over Grand Coulee Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior, is planning to conduct unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flights over and around Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

The agency says it will take photos and video of the structure while water is spilling over the drum gates this month. The last aerial videography of the dam was taken in 2002, and because many improvements have been made to the facility since then, current video footage will capture the updated infrastructure, the bureau says.

The team will operate a small quadcopter primarily on federal lands, but the drone may fly over adjacent private lands such as the Town of Coulee Dam, Grand Coulee and Electric City.

Although there is a federal no-fly zone over Grand Coulee Dam, Reclamation has obtained the required authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration and DOI. Strong safety requirements and practices will be observed, including not flying over people, the agency notes.

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