PRENAV and Partner Hawk Aerial Granted First Section 333 Exemptions To Operate Fully Autonomous System for Close Proximity Inspections

San Carlos, Calif. - Oct. 26, 2015 - Silicon Valley startup, PRENAV and partner Hawk Aerial today announced that have been granted the first Section 333 exemptions from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the PRENAV precision drone system.  PRENAV drones are capable of autonomously navigating in complex, cluttered, or GPS-denied environments.  The two companies plan to use the system to perform close proximity visual inspections of cell phone towers, wind turbines, bridges, oil tankers, industrial boilers, and other large structures.  

“Using drones to inspect structures such as cell towers and wind turbines typically requires an expert pilot because GPS isn’t adequate for close proximity flight,” according to Nathan Schuett, CEO of PRENAV.  “The PRENAV system is the first drone to be approved by the FAA that will enable these types of missions to be performed autonomously, where the flight is controlled by a robot on the ground.”

Even though the flight is autonomous, the FAA requires that the aircraft be operated within line of sight of a pilot in command who is a certified, manned aviation pilot.  For PRENAV’s system, the pilot in command must review the flight plan in advance and then monitor the flight on a tablet over the course of the mission.  The pilot has the ability to take control and land the aircraft in the event of an emergency.  Even without the pilot, however, the system is capable of running the entire mission.

In addition to PRENAV’s exemption, Southern California-based drone services provider Hawk Aerial has also been granted an exemption to use the PRENAV system.  

Kevin Gould, CEO of Hawk Aerial, stated:  “We’re very pleased the FAA amended our 333 Exemption to cover the PRENAV aircraft.  The PRENAV system allows us to better serve our customers and makes our operations more precise by employing market-leading automation technology for inspections.”

Product launch of the PRENAV precision drone system is slated for 2016.  Current performance can be viewed here:

To reserve one of the first systems or to receive assistance applying for a Section 333 exemption with the PRENAV system, please email for more information.  

Media Contact:
Tim Smith
Element Public Relations
(415) 350-3019

PRENAV is developing an automated system to capture data about the world’s infrastructure using small aerial robots. Navigating along pre-defined, repeatable flight paths, PRENAV’s drones take photographs from precise locations in close proximity to structures to build accurate 3D reconstructions of industrial assets. The system consists of a commercial drone, a guidance robot on the ground, and software to plan the mission and analyze the data. With an initial focus on cell towers, wind turbines, and other tall structures, PRENAV enables customers to inspect nuts, bolts, serial numbers, cabling, and damaged areas, as well as take measurements of key components. The company is based in San Carlos, CA in the heart of Silicon Valley.  For more information, please visit or follow the company at @PreNavInc

Hawk Aerial was founded on the belief that drone technology can make businesses safer, faster and more profitable.  To that end it sells integrated UAV systems, provides aerial inspection and data collection flight services, and conducts comprehensive drone training.  Hawk Aerial holds an FAA 333 exemption covering 8 models of UAV aircraft, both multirotor and fixed-wing.  It is based in Southern California and provides sales & services throughout North America and the Caribbean.