Fixed wing drones – another tool in forensic engineering investigation

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, low level aerial photographs taken from small helicopters - rotorcraft drones, are invaluable in forensic engineering investigation.  (Refs 1 to 3)  Using a small helicopter to take pictures a few 10s of metres above the ground could also be fun - if it weren`t for the seriousness of the issues in an engineering failure or personal injury accident.

Google ’You Tube Wetthetent7′ and view a fun video of scenes on Prince Edward Island taken from a rotorcraft drone fitted with a camera.  The potential for serious forensic photography with these mini aircraft is obvious.

Fixed wing dronesaircraft drones, are also valuable in forensic work.  I learned about these earlier this year.  Servant Dunbrack McKenzie MacDonald, (SDMM), Halifax, a land surveying and engineering firm own one.  They demonstrated it’s uses to me.

Where rotorcraft drones hover over a site taking low level, aerial photographs, fixed wing drones fly across the site taking low level photographs.  They do much the same as the aircraft flying1,000s of metres above the ground taking the aerial photographs relied on by civil engineers for years.  Except the photographs are of what you want, taken on the day you want, from the height and angle you want, and more detailed and cheaper.

SDMM are using fixed wing drones to map open pit mines.  The low level aerial photographs can also be used to make topographic and infrastructure maps – maps of the built environment and the ground we walk on.

I haven’t used fixed wing drones yet.  I will when I see that it will help me determine the cause of an engineering failure or a personal injury accident.


  1. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, possibly many 1,000s in forensic engineering with a new aerial photographic technique.  Posted January 15, 2014
  2. New forensic aerial photographic method proving extremely valuable.  Posted January 30, 2015
  3. Forensic photography – the expertise available in eastern Canada.  Posted February 26, 2015



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