The importance of planning…

Something you can almost take for granted with a properly approved, PfCO holding, drone operator – and you can certainly take it for granted with EMAV, is that once you engage with them, they will correctly plan whatever flights are necessary to get the footage you need, before even setting foot on site. Why? And how? Two questions we’ve been asked in the past, so I’ll attempt to answer them here.

First, the why? Why take the time to properly plan a flight that might only be a couple of minutes up in the air? And from the client’s point of view, why engage someone who will take that time (and yes, most likely be more expensive as a result) rather than go with someone who will just chuck a drone up in the air anyway without regard for proper planning?

From an operator’s point of view, the answer, quite simply is “safety” – how do we best ensure the safety of the public, buildings/property and, not least, our operators? By properly planning each and every flight, and we do mean every single flight – in other words, EMAV will not put a drone in the air unless that flight has been correctly risk assessed both ahead of time and once we arrive on site. Yes, we have turned down jobs where we were not satisfied they could be carried out correctly and safely – do we like turning down paid jobs, of course we don’t, but we’d like it even less if we had to compromise on safety to complete those jobs.

From a client’s point of view, the answer, quite simply is “peace of mind” – you know, if you’ve engaged with a responsible operator that you will get a properly planned flight that will keep everything you hold dear as safe as we can possibly make it. This should keep your people and property safe, and a nice side-effect is keeping your insurance premiums lower!

So how do we do it? In the “olden days”, up until a few months ago, we’d have got the paper aeronautical charts out, spent hours Googling (other search engines are available) the details of local airports, hospitals, prisons, power stations etc etc, all of which have a factor in whether we can take on a job in a given location and then using a good, old-fashioned piece of string to work out our separation distances (more on that in a future blog post!), ok, so some of it was done using various apps, not least UAV Forecast (for accurate, drone related weather/satellite/etc forecasting), Drone Assist from NATS and so on, and so on…you get the picture – a labour of love, to say the least.

But then it all changed a few months ago – the good folks over at Dronedesk went into overdrive and created, in my not so humble opinion, the single greatest app to make a drone operators life far simpler than the “good old days”. In a single, secure, site, we can:

1. Keep the client details, shared only with our team, including contact details & flight locations, making our pre-flight life as easy as it should be. Which then enables us to concentrate on…

2. the job location, using information supplied by you, such as the postcode or what3words address we can then do our preliminary checks, with information such as local air traffic control, flying clubs, RAF fields, air ambulance bases etc etc readily available without us having to go search for them, other information easily checked with the app is…

3. weather forecasts, it even gives us a nicely colour coded “Okay to fly?” guide, although of course, we’ll always use our common sense and own knowledge in conjunction with this as just occasionally, forecasts can be wrong, can’t they Mr Fish? Within minutes of checking all the above, and NOTAMs (“Notices to Airmen”, a rather old fashioned term for the system that essentially informs airspace users of “other things going on that might affect your flight” eg. cranes, model aircraft flying, weather balloon releases etc), we can get on with…

4. Site planning, in other words, where we plan to take off, land, where the operator will stand to ensure line of sight etc and also, pre-loaded into the system is a configurable

5. Risk Assessment, vital for any properly planned flight and as such, EMAV would not fly without this being completed.

Oh and yes, we also log all our flights in Dronedesk and I won’t even mention that it makes our life far easier when it comes to one of our favourite bits…invoicing…well come on, as much as we enjoy it, we don’t actually do this job for free you know!

So…now you have a little insight in to the operations behind the operations, we’re pretty thankful for Dronedesk as you can imagine, it makes our life far easier doing what we love, getting out there, getting up in the sky and getting those videos and images that you need, all as easily and safely as possible!