8 Items to Consider Before Deploying a Drone

Posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 by
In Surveying, tagged in Tags: , ,
what to know before deploying a drone

The Affinis team uses drones to survey clients’ sites and capture invaluable information. They take aerial surface images and then transform them into models with photogrammetry software. While drones are important assets to our firm, their usage is controlled by a series of requirements issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase public safety.

One requirement is that pilots must have a commercial license to fly. The FAA recommends pilots complete a checklist before each flight. It includes instructions, such as installing a battery before take-off or making sure the memory card has sufficient space available. Other guidelines are detailed in Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, which was created by the FAA. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most common considerations.

Before every flight, our team:

  1. Researches the airspace rights involved. For example, drones aren’t allowed to fly over people or organized events. If your route includes private property, you will need to have approval from the owners.
  2. Submits a flight plan to the FAA using their app, AirMap.
  3. Renews their licenses every other year. The test takes about 2 hours and is issued by the FAA.
  4. Consults the weather. They start by pulling a local METAR, which is a weather report generally used by aircraft pilots. They look at a number of factors with windspeed being one of the most critical. If it is above 20 or 30 miles an hour, a flight will need to be rescheduled.
  5. Considers the time of day. It is possible to secure a waiver to fly at night, but the general rule is that drones can only be flown 15 minutes before sunrise or 15 minutes after sunset. Otherwise, there needs to be daylight.
  6. Chooses courses that aren’t above 400 feet altitude without a waiver.
  7. Understands who will be there and what they’re going to do, as well as whether or not they have permission to fly in the area. These items all impact safety and liability.
  8. Assigns roles to the team who will be on site. Our survey group always has someone on the ground who can communicate with the pilot. For example, they can let them know if pedestrians have entered the area, and the drone needs to fly away. Good lines of communication between pilots and observers are key to safety when operating drones.
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