In recent years, drones have quickly become a very popular tool for agricultural, surveying, photographic, sporting, and recreational purposes. Whatever the reason for you using drones, here at DronezUp, we have our top ten tips for you when flying your aircraft.
1. You are operating an aircraft and sharing airspace with other users
It is hard to put this list into any particular order. However, this first one is by far the most important tip to remember. Many people are not aware that drones are in fact an aircraft, but of course they are. They are simply aircraft that have their pilot on the ground rather than on board. As the pilot of an aircraft, it is important to be aware of all rules and regulations associated with sharing airspace with other drones as well as manned aircraft.
2. Safety should override commercial pressures
If you are running a business where drones are part of your operation, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of needing to have your job completed by a particular time. The problem with that is that you can end up pushing the boundaries, and not in a good way. Succumbing to commercial pressures can risk your safety or the safety of others. If need be, make the call to leave the job for that day and return to complete the job at a later date.
3. Pre-flight safety checks are critical
Completing a pre-flight safety check can be the difference between having a successful job or not. Ensure that all members of your team are aware of the pre-flight safety check and what it involves. Never skip this critical step!
4. Practice makes permanent
Get familiar with your aircraft. There is no substitute for time on the controls. Familiarity with your aircraft ensures faster and more accurate responses in an emergency.
5. Managing human factors within your team is vital
Working with people brings in many factors that you need to consider. Human error is something that is unavoidable, however can definitely be minimised with proper planning as well as hazard and risk management. The IM SAFE acronym is a brilliant guide for helping manage these human factors. It takes into account the following factors: illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue and eating. The Civil Aviation Authority website is a great place to find a poster with this acronym to help you remember.
6. Risk assessments on jobs are dynamic and evolve throughout the job
Throughout a job, the risks and hazards can alter throughout the day. This is particularly true for weather in many parts of our country. Just because the weather conditions are perfect for flying in the morning, it does not mean that it will stay like that. When your hazards and risks evolve, so too should your risk management measures. This is true for the duration of a day as well as if the job flows onto a new day.
7. Always take time to practise your basic skills
Although there is a lot of automation with drones out there at the moment, your basic skills are sometimes what can help avoid an unpleasant ending to unplanned tricky situations. No matter how experienced you are, these situations can happen. Many flights will happen while connected to GPS and the drone can fly back to home when it needs to, but this is not foolproof. It is vital to practise your basic skills for manoeuvring the drone, as well as emergency procedures, so that they naturally occur when you need them. It is always better to be over prepared than under.
8. Regular drone maintenance is cheap insurance
Just like we get a regular service and warrant of fitness for our vehicles, or go for a yearly checkup at the dentist, regular maintenance on your aircraft can help you avoid larger bills later on, or even worse, an accident that damages your aircraft or causes harm to someone. Ensure you are aware of all of the maintenance requirements for your aircraft and keep up to date with these so that everyone, and all aircraft, can return home safely after each flight.
9. The job extends far beyond the flying component
This point may seem more applicable for commercial flying as opposed to recreational flying, however all flights require adequate preparation. Whenever you are going to fly, make sure you have factored in enough time for correct and sufficient preparation. This is another tip that can be the deciding factor between having a successful flight and not.
10. Always have an alternate landing zone
A lot can happen in the duration of a flight. One of those things is that your main landing zone is compromised. In situations like these, it is important to have an alternate landing zone. This is something to keep an eye out for when you are doing your pre-flight check and observing any possible hazards around the flying zone. In the best case scenario you will never need this alternate landing zone, but it is one of those things you want to have and never use than not have it when you need it.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but it is somewhere to start if you are wanting to become more confident with flying. If there is any other advice we can leave you with, it is this……be prepared and be aware.