Engineering firm RETTEW has announced that the FAA has granted an exemption for the use of the firm’s drone (unmanned aircraft system) for surveying and mapping purposes. Although RETTEW has owned a drone for about a year, the firm was not authorized to use the system commercially until the FAA granted the exemption.

Drones have been hotly debated over the last few years. Those against drones see them as a violation of their privacy, while those in favor feel their rights are jeopardized by the government restricting their use. The U.S. government is selective when it comes to who it allows to use drones for commercial and recreational purposes. One must register with the FAA to get an exemption for commercial use, like in RETTEW’s case. The FAA has granted only 5,114 UAS exemptions to date.

With the FAA exemption, RETTEW can now use the drone for rooftop surveys, mapping of land areas, and inspections of bridges and pipelines. Safety is a priority at RETTEW, and using drones will allow the firm to provide reliable data to clients while keeping employees out of harm’s way. “Keeping up with the latest surveying technology allows RETTEW to build on the services we offer and pass further cost savings onto our clients,” says Mark Lauriello, RETTEW’s president and CEO.

RETTEW began providing civil engineering and surveying services in 1969, and today it has more than 350 employees at nine offices in Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Mechanicsburg, and Pittsburgh, PA; Canton, OH; Delhi, NY; Bridgeport, WV, and Denver, CO. For more information, visit