Last week, I had the chance to be a panelist on Skyward’s webinar, 30 Pro Tips in 30 Minutes. It was a blast — and as the title indicates, it went by really quickly. We shared a ton of information, but we didn’t have time to actually talk about all the tips that we showed.
So I wanted to follow up with a closer look at just a few more tips, and answer a couple top questions from our attendees.
1) Mitigating risk through corporate policies
Here’s one tip that we didn’t have a chance to discuss: Work with experts to adapt a General Operating Manual and Standard Operating Procedures to include corporate policies.
Every drone program that’s serious about running as safely as possible has established standard operating procedures. These policies help reduce the risk of violating regulations and provide a framework for operations that reinforce a culture of safety. But here’s something companies may overlook: your operating standards should also take into account company policies that go above and beyond the letter of the law.
Say, for example, your company has a policy requiring permission before entering or working on private property. This could create some confusion in your drone program because federal regulations don’t say anything about flying over private property. Your pilots might fly over privately owned land without violating any laws, but it could land you in hot water with your legal team.
Make sure your standard operating procedures integrate company policies and account for any potential conflicts. It will go a long way toward creating goodwill for your program within your company. And if you’re not sure what it takes to set up strong program standards, reach out to an expert consultant for some help.
2) Boosting on-site efficiency
Here’s a bonus tip I briefly mentioned, but I want to dive into more: Plan operations in the office before you arrive on site to maximize efficiency.
I’ve found that drone programs in the early stages sometimes require very little planning before takeoff. Pilots may just check airspace and weather for the site and call it good. But in the long run, that kind of quick assessment leaves you ill-prepared, and you might end up wasting a lot of time when you arrive in the field.
Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before most operations:
- Airspace and weather conditions
- Mission objectives
- Where you’ll park your vehicle
- Clear takeoff and landing zones
- Location for your ground control station (Remember, you have to keep the drone in your sight at all times.)
- Obstacles or difficult terrain in your area of operations
- Supporting equipment you’ll need — walkie-talkies, safety gear, extra batteries
That’s not a complete list by any means, but it’s enough to get you started. Your system of checklists should help you keep track of all these things for every operation. Checklists are baked into Skyward’s Aviation Management Platform to help enterprises manage compliance in the field.
Skyward also offers a great airspace map for this reason. In addition to a wealth of easy-to-understand airspace information, our map features ground intelligence and flight planning tools that can help you be much more efficient in the field.
3) Best practices for drone data
Here’s one of my favorite tips that we didn’t have time for: Have a plan for data use and storage — if you can’t find it or make use of it, the extra high-quality data won’t provide business value.
In a Skyward webinar on infrastructure inspections last November, a few of the panelists talked about the early stages of their drone programs. One theme that came up several times was that, while they found that drones could collect great data, they were unprepared for the volume of data they captured. Without a plan in place for data storage, processing, and business use, a lot of the data they collected was never used. That meant hours of wasted work — and wasted money.
One vital step to a high-quality drone program is to have good data practices. From collection through final deliverable, make sure every team member knows the process. And always be sure the data is driving toward ROI — don’t just collect data for the fun of it.
Top questions from our webinar attendees
Now that I’ve shared a few more of our tips, I’ll answer the two top questions we didn’t have time to address in our live Q&A session:
Q: Did Skyward file comments on the FAA’s proposed rule for drone Remote ID? What insights on Remote ID can you offer?
My coworker Dave Lincoln recently wrote an article breaking down Skyward’s response to the proposed Remote ID rule. I highly recommend you check it out!
Q: What industries are drones being used in today? What are some of the use cases?
Today, drones are being used commercially for a wide range of uses across many industries. For example, in construction and engineering drones are frequently used for surveying and modeling. Energy and utility companies are using drones for vertical infrastructure inspections, where they can significantly reduce risk to personnel. Media and broadcast studios are turning to drones for great footage and unique perspectives. And that’s just to name a few.
For more examples, check out Skyward’s resource library. We have case studies, fact sheets, and information for drone programs in many different industry verticals.
Looking for more tips?
For 27 more tips, plus Q&A from our audience, watch the webinar recording and download the slides.