8 top tips for flying your drone safely #rememberyouareapilot

Drones are changing the paradigm of aviation. Gone are the hours of flying lessons, certifications and the high barriers to entry. Instead people can buy a drone and be piloting an aircraft within hours.

This is bringing a whole new group of airspace users to the skies; it's exciting but it's also a challenge. Besides being a lot of fun, drones can also bring potential risks to safety, security and privacy. So here's some top tips from us, to ensure you take off and enjoy the skies safely...

TIP #1 - Visit www.dronesafe.uk and read the CAA's Dronecode

TIP #1 -Visit www.dronesafe.uk and read the CAA's Dronecode

www.dronesafe.uk

Before you embark on any flight, check out the joint NATS/Civil Aviation Authority website www.dronesafe.uk, the home of drone safety information for hobbyists wanting to fly in the UK. Here you can easily access the information you need to ensure you are flying safely and legally, without endangering others.

The Civil Aviation Authority's Drone Code, which can be found on the website, provides the simple steps you should follow to ensure the safety of you and others.

TIP #2 - Watch NATS Drone Checklist video

TIP #2 - Watch NATS Drone Checklist video

When you are planning on flying your drone, remember that you're going to be piloting an aircraft. You are responsible for ensuring your safety and the safety of anyone else using the airspace around you.

This video, which we produced recently, reminds you of the checks a General Aviation pilot goes through and the comparable checks drone pilots should carry out before and during any flight.

TIP #3 Download NATS free Drone Assist app

TIP #3 Download NATS free Drone Assist app

Drone Assist is our drone safety app, available for free on Android and iOS. Powered by Altitude Angel, the app provides drone pilots with a user friendly interactive map of the airspace used by commercial and other air traffic.

The app enables drone pilots to easily identify areas such as Aerodrome Traffic Zones and Airports/Airfields, as well as ground hazards such as power lines, enabling them to make better informed choices about where to fly and not to fly.

TIP #4 - Plan your route

TIP #4 - Plan your route

Before you head out with your drone make sure you take time to think about where you're going to fly. The Drone Assist app can help with this, as can tools such as SkyDemon.

Think about the types of hazards you might encounter and who else might be flying in that area. Google Earth is another useful tool for drone pilots, giving you information for example on buildings in an area and other hazards to be aware of.

TIP #5 Check the weather

TIP #5 Check the weather

Strong winds can severely hamper your ability to control your drones so it's important to check wind speeds before take off. Some of the most expensive and powerful drones still struggle in high winds and there are plenty of videos out there showing pilots losing control when gusts come along.

Temperature is also another really important consideration. Some drones simply won't operate if their batteries are below a certain temperature but you also need to think about other factors, like the risk of damage to motors and other internal electronics. It's important to check individual drone manufacture guides, as this can differ from model to model. Almost all consumer drones should not be flown in temperatures below zero.

Also think about your ability as a pilot in different weather conditions. If visibility is poor, you might struggle to maintain visual line of sight with your drone if it's more than a few feet away. In cold weather, you might lose dexterity and sensitivity in your hands, affecting your ability to control your drone. Think about your ability to pilot your drone as well as the drone's performance itself.

TIP #6 - Check your drone before you fly

TIP #6 - Check your drone before you fly

Before taking off, it is important to physically check your drone for any loose parts or areas of damage. Begin by checking that the unit’s blades are firmly attached. Also inspect each blade for nicks or cracks. If you find any it's important to ground your flight and obtain replacement parts.

Battery levels should be checked to ensure they are sufficient for your flight and ensure your drone and your controls are paired and working properly. Test your drone at low altitudes before you embark on your main flight to check that it's responding to your instructions as you'd expect.

TIP #7 - Monitor your drone during your flight

TIP #7 - Monitor your drone during your flight

Remember, it's your responsibility to ensure the safety of other airspace users when you're flying your drone. You must keep your drone within your visual line of sight at all times.

Whilst flying, look out regularly for aircraft, wildlife, drones, people and any other potential hazards and monitor your aircraft during the flight, ensuring it continues to respond to all your instructions as you'd expect.

TIP #8 - Make sure you take off and land safely

TIP #8 - Make sure you take off and land safely

When you take off or land your drone, it's essential to consider your surroundings. Even with a great amount of room, drones may still sway side to side. Know your drones hovering accuracy and make sure you're well clear of people, buildings, overhead electrical wires and any other potential hazards.

Remember, you're a pilot!

Remember, you're a pilot!

And follow these 8 top tips:

  1. Visit www.dronesafe.uk and read the CAA's Dronecode
  2. Watch NATS Drone Checklist video
  3. Download NATS free Drone Assist app
  4. Plan your route
  5. Check the weather
  6. Check your drone before you fly
  7. Monitor your drone during your flight
  8. Make sure you take off and land safely

Follow the Dronecode, enjoy your drone and fly safely!

Credits:

Created with images by Sam Beebe, Ecotrust - "Jake Weber"

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