5 Things We've Learned about Drone Safety in 5 Years

Nov 4, 2019, 7:15:10 AM  |  0 Comments

At Measure, commitment to drone safety has been a defining characteristic of our business since our inception in 2014, two years before Part 107 was even enacted.

The industry has come a long way in the last five years, and so have we. In honor of National Drone Safety Awareness Week, we wanted to share a few things about drone safety that we’ve learned over the last five years.

 

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1. Safe drone operations start with properly trained pilots.

The FAA’s Part 107 certificate covers FAA standards and regulations for sUAS operations and lays the foundation for safe flight operations. However, that should only be the beginning of safety training for drone operators.

Every pilot who goes through Measure's rigorous drone pilot training has been trained on additional best practices such as:

  • Leading a pre-flight safety and operations meeting
  • Reviewing all state and local drone regulations related to the mission
  • Finding a good takeoff and landing zone
  • Being properly dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Securely collecting data for critical infrastructure

Further, pilots in Measure’s training program receive flight training with the specific hardware and software that they will be using on the job, reducing the risk of technology-related errors. Pilots also receive hands-on training with real-world applications.

“With a proper training program, your pilots can be trusted to execute a drone flight safely, efficiently, and professionally, and to securely collect quality data for processing and analysis,” says Measure’s VP of Drone Operations, Andy Justicia.

Learn more about commercial drone pilot training in our whitepaper.

2. Drone pilots often face unexpected hazards.

When pilots enter a work site, their primary concern is protecting client assets and drone equipment. There are many common hazards they can prepare for, and some unexpected ones they cannot.

Weather is the most common obstacle to a safe and successful drone mission. Although weather should be checked frequently prior to a mission to ensure conditions are conducive to flight, sometimes conditions are unavoidable, such as when our pilots were shooting during Hurricane Harvey and a wind gust launched our drone a mile down the road, barely clearing a tree line.

There are other hazards that are less predictable, like encounters with wildlife. Our pilots have navigated cow and horse invasions and wild coyote attacks on drone equipment! No matter the situation, pilots must take caution to protect themselves and their equipment from animal intrusions while maintaining respect for the spaces they are working in that are sometimes off the beaten path.

 

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3. Technology plays a key role in supporting drone safety.

A drone is only as safe as the software operating it; that’s why we’ve built Measure Ground Control with safety best practices in mind.

We’ve partnered with AirMap, an FAA UAS Service Supplier (USS), to provide access to the LAANC authorization process via the mobile device being used for the flight. To prevent DJI drones from locking in restricted airspace, we’ve integrated with DJI GeoUnlock so that users who have LAANC authorization can unlock DJI drones instantly without leaving the flight app.

To reduce mistakes and human error, we’ve created built-in checklists that pilots can access directly within Ground Control. Many customer organizations mandate the use of checklists for safety, regulatory, and compliance purposes.

The software used to operate the drone should operate with flight safety and FAA compliance in mind. Ground Control was built to make it easier on companies scaling their drone operations to track and monitor activity and to support safe and legal drone activity.

4. A strong safety program opens doors for your drone business.

Since our inception, we built the foundation for our aerial operations on military-grade best practices and professional aviation standards. These standards have led to an impeccable safety record with zero reportable incidents in over five years of operation.

This strong safety record has kept us in good standing with the FAA and opened doors for business opportunities and research and development. The FAA serves the drone industry by setting and maintaining standards for UAS operators that protect the efficacy and integrity of the industry and allow for future development of unmanned technology. When permission is needed for operations outside of current regulations, we’ve worked positively with the FAA over the past several years to obtain many waivers for operations such as clearance to operate within Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) for high profile events such as the Super Bowl, within the DC Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ), and most recently, for flights over people.

5. Investment in industry-wide initiatives and research and development is crucial to developing safer skies for drone operators.

We obtained top talent to support our partnership with NUAIR. At the New York UAS Test Site in Rome, New York, we have been running operational tests with select UTM Service Suppliers to help demonstrate how an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) ecosystem would operate.

This work has the potential to permanently change the UAV industry and lead to open doors for safe BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) operations in the U.S.

We have also partnered with AiRXOS, part of GE Aviation, to provide a holistic inspection solution that overcomes the regulatory and performance complexities of advanced drone operations. This is important work that helps organizations operate complex and significant drone missions safely and effectively with full compliance.

 

As drone technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate and drone capabilities are becoming more advanced, it’s more important than ever to stress the importance of safety and adherence to regulations that keep our skies – and our people – safe.

Be sure to check out the many stories behind National Drone Safety Awareness Week by following #DroneWeek on social media and subscribing to the Federal Aviation Administration on YouTube and Twitter.

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