7 Ways to Manage Risk in Your Drone Program

Minimize risk and create a safe environment for your drone program to thrive with these tips

Jan 11, 2018 · 5 min read

There is a lot on the line with incorporating drones into the workplace. Being aware and accepting that risk is part of managing and scaling any drone program. You’ll need to take the necessary steps to ensure you are minimizing that risk and doing everything to support a safe environment for the program to thrive.

Let’s explore some of the ways you can reduce risk and create a safe operation for everyone involved.

Take a Safety-First Approach

Safety isn’t just a concept; it’s a philosophy. A safe operation starts at the top with the leader of your drone program and trickles down. As you begin establishing your program guidelines, safety should always be top of mind.

Safety is all about establishing protocols to reduce risk and making sure employees adhere to them on the job. When something goes wrong, it can damage your company’s reputation, cost you business, increase operating costs, and slow down your ability to grow.

Educate Employees About Potential Risk

It’s essential that members of your team understand what risks are on the table. Without comprehension of what can go wrong, there will be less incentive to stick with the guidelines.

We recommend you start by educating your team about the risks — making everyone accountable for the safety and success of the drone program. Consider enrolling in training program, such as DARTdrones.

Leverage Tools for Checking Airspace

One of the tenants of being a responsible pilot is always checking your airspace before flying. Temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) can change at a moment’s notice, and your team needs to be sure flights are compliant with FAA regulations at all times.

We recommend developing an internal protocol or system for checking airspace authorization before each flight. This system will help keep everyone accountable and reduce chances of flying in restricted airspace, or without the proper FAA flight waivers required for the job. Tools like Airmap, Skyward, and Flyte make this process simpler and are available in the DroneDeploy App Market.

Reduce Risk with Flight Automation

Flying a drone can be challenging, especially when you’re first getting started. On a job site there are dozens — even hundreds — of potential obstacles ranging from structures to weather, and everything in between. By automating drone flights, you can help reduce the risk of something going wrong, such as a collision that injures a person or damages equipment. Of course, always maintain visual line of sight (VLOS) with the drone at all times, and be ready to take control should something happen. Learn more here.

Flight automation with DroneDeploy allows you to set all of your flight parameters (speed, altitude, etc.) when you plan a flight. DroneDeploy makes it easier to avoid obstacles you know exist while following best mapping practices to produce higher-quality maps and models.

“We like using the automated systems because it opens up less opportunity for risk. I know the tower cranes aren’t going to get any taller. I know the buildings aren’t going to get any taller than the tower cranes. So with relative confidence, I can walk out every week and do all three flights on the same SD card.” -Ryan Moret, McCarthy Building Companies

Create Pre-Flight, Post-Flight Checklists

Create a pre-flight check app for your team with our enterprise APIs.

Defining a consistent set of pre and post-flight procedures will increase safety and reduce chances of something going wrong in the field. It’s important to conduct pre and post-flight safety checks every time you take to the skies. A useful checklist is simple, repeatable, and will address the mission, job site, flight crew, and environment. Learn more about making a good checklist in our eBook, Preparing for Takeoff.

Develop Emergency Procedures

You create safety procedures intending to avoid disaster. But sometimes disaster strikes. If it does, you and your team need to be ready to react appropriately. You should always establish an emergency procedure should something go wrong. It can be difficult to think straight in a stressful situation, and having a set of clear guidelines to follow makes things more manageable for the pilot, observer, and anyone else on the ground. Emergency protocols increase your team’s chances of efficiently responding, without forgetting any important steps along the way.

Establish a System of Record for Tracking Pilots, Flight Logs, and Missions

Good record keeping is critical to any department. And drone data is no different. You will need to develop a system for storing all mission information. Records are necessary should anything go wrong during or after the mission. You may have to complete a retroactive analysis or provide detailed information to other departments in the company such as legal or risk management. Learn about software tools for managing drone data in our eBook, Preparing for Takeoff.

Use the DroneDeploy Admin Panel to manage your drone data. Our Data Viewer makes it simple to view, track, store, and organize your drone data.

Where to Learn More

  • Learn more about minimizing risk through insurance, training, and maintenance in our eBook, Preparing for Takeoff.
  • Read more about the ways drones are improving safety on the job site here.
  • Just getting your drone operation off the ground? Read our lessons learned from helping companies large and small get their drone programs started here.
  • Learn how drones surveys of an aggregate quarry are safer — and 20x faster — thanks to drones in this post.

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com


Written by

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com

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