NYC officials push for inspections by drone after fatal falling debris accident

Only days after Erica Tishman, a well-known architect, was killed by pieces of building facade that fell in midtown Manhattan, some New York City officials are now pushing for inspections by drone to prevent such accidents from happening in the future. Currently, an outdated law prohibits the use of drones in New York City.

NYC officials push for inspections by drone

The proposed law would require inspections by drone to take place within 48 hours of a complaint or violation.

‘This is not a toy, but it’s a tool. These tools will save millions of dollars. It would save time, but most importantly it could actually save lives,’ said Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, according to Spectrum News NY1.

The new legislation would also allow for the use of drones for building inspections by the city’s housing authority. The new law aims to detect problems and possibly dangerous conditions. Tishman was walking along 49th Street last Tuesday when she was fatally struck by a piece of falling facade from a building that was fined in April.

According to city councillors Justin Brannan and Robert Cornegy, lawmakers must take action, because currently, drone flying is illegal in New York City outside of five dedicated areas. The councillors also pointed to the lack of manpower to adequately deal with the thousands of buildings that have violations or are in need of repair.

‘In speaking to them very recently, one of their ideas is that we’re going to add more inspectors. That’s only one part of this and only one component to what’s necessary,’ said Cornegy.

State-of-the-art drones with thermal cameras that cost around $2,500 would be needed to detect cracks in a building’s facade and provide a bird’s-eye view of a roof’s conditions. Even though the specific make and model of the drones that the city would use are not specified, it sounds like the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual that carries a similar price tag would be a likely candidate.

Private companies would be authorized to perform the inspections by drone that would be paid for by the building owners, a more cost-effective option, according to the Brooklyn borough president.

Currently, an outdated law that dates back to 1948 makes flying unmanned aircraft illegal in New York City. The city councillors hope to have that law eased as soon as possible so that the inspections of buildings with the help of drones can start soon.

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo