Behind the Scenes of a Drone Flight
by Dragon Drones, 3 min read
Good afternoon everyone, welcome. Today we are going to be taking a moment to share what goes into our drone flights before we do them and what we look for while we're flying. Ready to fly behind the scenes? Let's go!
Before We Accept A Contract
Even before we accept a contract, there's a lot of work that goes into figuring out what is going to happen on the job. Whether it's making sure that we can fly there, the terrain, weather forecasts or the conditions on-site, it's important to have a lot of information. We ask the date, time and place of the flight so that we can understand exactly the potential conditions. For example, we can't fly near an airport without authorization. Do we need to contact the government for that? If we do, that can take 60-90 days, depending on the request. A lot of this is taken care of prior to the flight, but sometimes there are "day of" conditions that we take into account.
For drones, there are a number of important things that we have to make sure are in order before we fly. Below is our checklist that we complete before every flight!
- Airspace - Unrestricted or Authorized
- CHECKED FOR NOTAMs and TAFs - ALL CLEAR
- Airspace - Initial Survey Done
- Weather - Visibility over 3 miles - Wind less than 15mph - No Precipitation
- sUAS Airframe and Props - No structural defects visible.
- sUAS Battery - Sufficient for intended flight - <75%
- Controller Battery - Sufficient for intended flight - <75%
- Display Device Battery Sufficient for intended flight
- Memory Card - Installed, sufficient memory for flight
- Camera Gimbal Lock Removed
- Display Device On
- Controller Power On
- sUAS Power On
- sUAS Status Lights - Anti-Collision - Green Flashing, Red Solid
- Camera Check - Gimbal Calibrated - Lenses Correct
- Compass Calibrated
- Flight Limits Set
- GPS Flight Mode
- Takeoff Location Clear
- sUAS Motor On - No abnormal noise
- Home Point Set
- Hover Check - Idle Warmup
- Flight Telemetry Normal
FAA Flight Regulations
While we are flying, we always need to make sure to fly in a safe and controlled manner. If something goes wrong, we have to immediately land in the safest area to do so. Even if that means that the drone itself is irretrievable or beyond saving, we have a moral duty to make sure that the human casualties in the event of an emergency are minimized.
In addition, there's "day of" flight regulations that we need to make sure that we are following. A type of restriction called a "TFR" or "Temporary Flight Restriction" is exactly what it sounds like - meaning that we can't fly there. Near sporting events while they are going on, if VIPs are in the area (government officials), air shows, practically anything can prevent us from flying if the FAA says we can't. That means that we can't take off, or we risk a fine and jail time.
We are always required to have situational awareness of the immediate surroundings. If something like a helicopter flies overhead, we must immediately divert and be as safe as possible. Additionally, we need to keep the drone in sight at all times without the use of binoculars. So often we will make sure that the shot we want to get is what we're looking for and then actually look back up at the drone to make sure that we're being safe. If something happens during flight, we must - you guessed it - immediately land.
You can find more information about drone pilot awareness here on the FAA's website.
There's a few things we have to do when we land. First, we inspect the drone once more and then make sure that we secure the drone by removing the battery. Afterwards, there is packing and stowing the drone away which keep it in good condition and ensure that we can fly another day!
Can't forget the footage though! We'll take the SD card out of the drone and transfer the footage or edit it as we agreed to at the start. And then it begins all again with the next customer. Is that you? If so, feel free to reach out to us via our quote form here, and we'll take care of you!