Keep these in mind as you tackle using drones commercially.
Flying and using drones commercially is an excellent opportunity to make money while doing what you love. As a commercial pilot, in order to do the job well, there are many moving parts you have to manage. Whether you’re actively in or trying to get involved in real estate photography, surveying or inspection, these 10 reminders will keep you on your commercial drone-flying wits to best support you and your clients’ operations.
1. Come Properly Equipped
Flying with confidence means knowing you have the right tools to stay in the air. That’s why it’s vital to check all of your gear beforehand, and bring backup. Small accessories such as propellers, cables, chargers, and even batteries can get misplaced or damaged, especially if you are flying regular jobs on-the-go.
Always check, before and after every mission, that these items are in their correct place and that they are working correctly. Additionally, have backup for each piece of hardware you own— even your drone! You’ll be glad you did.
2. Know Your Application—Well
Learning about different applications and industries is an exciting part of being a commercial drone pilot. Drone pilots do this so they can best serve their clients and expand their industries too.
Before you fly, make sure you know exactly what the customer wants and why. Understand their industry and how drones are leveraged in it so you can collect and deliver the material they need fast.
You can stay informed via the DARTdrones website’s resources menu, which provides in-depth guides to many industries and how drones fit into them.
3. Weather-Checks When Using Drones Commercially
Among the commercial drone community, weather is arguably the most important factor to consider when planning for a flight. If you don’t plan accordingly, you can waste time, put your drone at risk, and even collect bad data. Monitor the weather forecast in the days leading up to your flights. You can use website such as Wunderground or Darksky, or check if forecasts are available on your drone flight app.
4. Commercial Drone Maintenance
Drones (or UAS) are prone to wear-and-tear, especially when they are flown regularly for commercial applications. To avoid serious set-backs, you can do small yet effective procedures such as changing a propeller and cleaning its electronics free of dust and debris. Larger procedures such as service to your drone’s electronics and actuators, which can be done by certified repair centers, are crucial too. When both are routinely done, your drone’s performance and longevity will be much greater.
Even while you have your Part 107 drone certification, you should always refresh your knowledge of the regulations. Airspace, time of day and the surroundings of the area you wish to fly are just some factors you need to account for before flying—and can have serious legal repercussions if you don’t follow them closely.
Not yet certified? Check out the DARTdrones Part 107 drone training course that teaches you all you need to know to become a certified Part 107 Drone Pilot in the US.
6. Post-flight Software for your Commercial Gig
Commercial drone workflows are incomplete without being able to deliver the right product. That is why your post-flight software should be considered for each job you take on. Make sure it can not only work with the media you put into it from your drone, but that it can also create the right deliverable your clients need to get the job done.
7. Clear Communication
If you are coordinating a commercial drone flight with a team, maximize safety and performance by establishing any key words or signals that can be used during the flight. Conduct these checks with anyone who is new to your team as well as with existing members to ensure everyone is on the same page for your mission.
8. Battery Care
Often overlooked, batteries are the life-line to your drone, and can sometimes act up if they’re not properly cared for. Watching your batteries closely during and outside of flight, you’ll be able to optimize your drone’s flight time and performance in the air. If not, they could cause grave errors to your UAS, throwing off your entire mission and potentially risking your business relationships.
Invest in the proper equipment that helps you take care of your batteries better and monitor how they perform over time.
9. Fly for fun, too!
Don’t let all your flying happen for your job! Take extra time to fly for leisure and practice. Flying recreationally gives you opportunities to discover new techniques and features on your drone, so you don’t have to accidentally discover them during a commercial drone flight.
10. Stay Certified
Our final reminder is to keep your Part 107 drone certification updated, even if you are flying less frequently, which expires every two years. Additionally, there is the Trust Operator ProgramTM (TOP), established by Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which is a highly suggested drone certification and standardization world-wide.
With a TOP drone certification (of any three levels) your expert piloting and professionalism are acknowledged by a leading and globally followed drone organization. DARTdrones offers the official drone certification course for all three levels to get you up to these international standards. Check it out today!
As a commercial drone pilot, you are required to be proficient in more than just piloting drones. But if you manage your time, tasks, and resources well, the skills you develop make you a unique asset for your business and clients. At DARTdrones we’re proud provide valuable resources for commercial drone pilots of all skill levels, so you can be confident and consistent about your commercial drone operations.
About the Author
Amelia Owre is DARTdrones’ Director of Training. A former Navy helicopter pilot, Amelia flew the SH-60F, HH-60H and MH-60S prior to transitioning to unmanned systems. For the past 5 years she has been responsible for developing curriculum and implementing training for the MQ-8B Fire Scout, the Navy’s first rotary wing UAS. As a current Naval reservist, she continues to develop the training curriculum for the Fire Scout as well as instruct the Navy’s next generation of UAS operators. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds an M.S. in Environmental Science, as well as a Commercial Pilot Certificate with fixed wing, helicopter and instrument ratings.
DARTdrones is the nation’s leader in drone training, program development and consultation, offering online and in-person courses in 40+ cities across the United States. DARTdrones takes pride in their comprehensive curriculum, developed by a former US Navy Helicopter pilot, as well as their 40+ flight instructors who are all manned and unmanned aircraft pilots. Visit us online at www.dartdrones.com, call 800-264-3907 or email the DARTdrones Team at [email protected] to learn more.