From industrial inspections to mine surveying projects, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, as they are more commonly known, are becoming the survey tool of choice for commercial purposes. Not only do drones present a reliable way to collect, report, and review relevant data, they offer a safe and speedy alternative to human-led surveying, often conducted on foot.
Own your own drone for this kind of work? If you do, it’s important to adhere to strict safety guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety of your team, the public, and your project’s surrounds. While operating a drone might seem like a simple task, it is still a piece of hi-tech machinery (speeding through an aerial space) that needs to be treated with respect. Whatever the project, drone operators should always think safety first.
Our top tips for flying your drone safely
1. Have a plan
Don’t just launch your drone and go. While getting off the ground can be swift, in order for a drone survey to be effective, you need to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Understand what data you need to collect and how best to do so, and give careful consideration to the area, equipment, and buildings that will be part of the survey. Also take your time transporting, charging, and setting up the drone to ensure its optimal performance.
2. Stay on the right side of the law
Changes to the Civil Aviation Act mean that the use of drones for commercial purposes is now regulated. Therefore, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) views any drone flying in the sky as an aircraft that must abide by the same law as manned aircraft. This means commercial drone operators must be properly certified and follow all aviation laws (such as where and when flight is possible) to promote safety standards and avoid harsh penalties.
3. Keep your eyes on your drone
Never operate your drone beyond where you can see it and see what it is filming. This is especially important when it comes to surveying potentially hazardous terrain (where the drone might cause unnecessary damage or get damaged), as well as ensuring you stay clear of airports and areas where it might interfere with manned aircraft (during routine or emergency operations) or public events – flying over an unsuspecting crowd can be very dangerous. This safety tip can be extended to poor weather conditions – severe wind or rain could hamper your ability to operate the drone safely so wait for clear skies before taking off.
4. Be on top form
This should be an obvious point but let’s state it anyway – never operate a drone when under the influence of alcohol or heavy medication. You should be alert and aware of your surroundings and responsibilities at all times, not only for safety reasons but to ensure you properly capture the necessary data.
5. Be a good neighbour
It’s important to respect the rights and privacy of others when operating your drone. If you are surveying an area adjacent to a neighbouring piece of land or populated space, be considerate of the owners and occupants. Never film someone else’s property or activity without their permission. Avoid flying over these areas and, if you must do so, always inform affected parties of your presence and purpose.
Drone surveying for commercial projects is becoming an increasingly popular option due to the high safety and efficiency that come along with using drone services. Make sure you sustain that safety by always operating your drone in a legal, compliant, and safety-aware manner. Need help operating a drone for commercial purposes? Want to get licensed as a drone pilot? Or want an expert to get the drone footage you need without the hassle? DC Geomatics are the team for you. Licensed and experienced drone operators, we offer total aerial mapping services (including aerial LiDAR and hyperspectral technology surveying services) to the mining sector in South Africa as well as across the continent of Africa, including Zambia, Angola, Namibia, and Tanzania.