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Ground Risk for Pilots & uninvolved people.

Jul 1, 2019
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Hello i2 Pilots,

-for admins ; ? im nore sure "general discussions" fits and im sorry for that.

-thread related :

I find this community very helpful and full of interesting topics even if i am not really uber active nowadays im often checking forum thats why im writing right here aside asking proper other professionals around my area and far away.

I would like to get any info or pointed in the right direction related about "ground risk" from the pilot side and team side and operating area/univolved people, anyone has info ?

the only thing i find out similar in term of "what im looking for" it is related by "construction sites" and some operative manual about it.

anyone know some about aviation ground risk or just ground risk related to work on the ground?

my mission is to operate in safety ambient and i am upgrading my operative manual since we cant upgrade yet the inspire2 lol, just "locking a whole street" seems not the solution but just a mitigation of course.

Ty for any reply
I fly construction progress missions weekly. The good news is that flying perimeter (POI) shots puts you outside the construction zone. So I generally try to fly where people and cars aren't. I try. It's literally impossible to fly a 100% idiot-proof drone mission just as much as it's impossible to fly a 100% idiot-proof full-scale aviation mission.

If my clients are in rural areas, I try to fly over open fields. If they're in the city, I try to fly over buildings. I figure if my drone is gong to crash, I'd rather have it crash on a building or in a field than on a sidewalk or street. That said, putting any vehicle in the air it's impossible to mitigate all risk 100%. Just ask any professional news helicopter pilot who's crashed into a building and killed dozens. It happens. A lot. The good news is that UAV's have done so little damage over the years that it's almost immeasurable. But I'm getting off track...

I also fly a nadir "strafe" or "overhead" mission for each property. They use these shots for forensics. So, the other good news is that anybody on a construction site is wearing PPE, which always includes a helmet and safety vest. So in the unlikely event that your drone goes down combined with the 1-in-a-million event that it actually strikes a human, said "victim" should be protected against injury. OR you can fly on the weekend.

Here's a typical Perimeter (POI) mission where I've indicated the "danger" points. As you can see, I have made an effort to avoid roads and sidewalks in favor of parking lots and building tops. This particular mission is flown @ 6mph @ 150' to 170' AGL.


Here's the nadir "Strafe" mission for the same property. I've outlined the construction zone in red. As you can see, I fly directly over the construction zone. This mission is flown @ 230' AGL.


The client wants the deliverable by end of business Friday, so Wed-Fri is my shooting window. It would be nice to fly on weekends, but the client dictates when I fly.

As a side note, for this particular property, WiFi interference is really bad, but goes through the roof on the weekend. I assume this is because of the apartment complex to the West (top of the photo). So I have to be VERY diligent monitoring connection strength. Despite being a fairly small mission, I always use a parabolic signal reflector to increase signal strength to the drone.

I can nudge clients and suggest weekends, but most clients want to view the footage before they leave for the weekend.

In a nutshell, while mitigating risk is a piece of cake (because inherently, statistically, there have been almost no UAV injuries over the years), you can't mitigate stigmas. Clients run the gamut from having boat-loads of common sense to coming at me with a myriad of "what if" arguments. I'm fortunate that my clients are pretty smart so when I tell them "research UAV injuries," they come back the next day and say something like "I could only find 3" or whatever. It's been years since I took on a new client, so things may have changed since then. Even then, most injuries can be attributed to stupid UAV pilots. I saw one video where the guy flew his drone directly into a bride's skull bone. Idiot. I simply assure client I am NOT that guy. But I digress....

The best way to avoid injuries is to avoid loss of control. So before taking any job, I highly recommend you practice. A LOT. You need to fully understand your drone from the ground up. I can attribute 90% of the fly-aways I read about in this forum to user error. The Mavic forum is littered with fly-aways. People tend to purchase drones from Best Buy and then go launch them from their back yard and/or fly over a lake and then wonder why they crash.

Because I love flying so much, I practiced daily for months before I took on any clients. BAR NONE; the best thing you can do to insure safety is to understand your drone inside and out, and to flush out any issues while PRACTICING.

I have about 8 years of professional drone flying under my belt (main source of income). I've had one crash while working. No injuries. No property damage. So I hope this helps.

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Very sound advice... I am your doppelgänger here in Hawaii, but we use Litchi - been trying to grasp DroneLInk, but my feeble 70 yo brain can't handle it... Litchi is so simple to plan and execute... pus, I like the fact that it uploads to the aircraft the flight path and WP's, so in the event of a disconnect it will continue on with the mission...

I agree with you 100% re. flyaways... tired of reading "my drone just took off on it's own"... in 6 years that we have been in business we have had flyaways, but they are because at this one site the winds can come out of nowhere and gust up to 30... our poor P4P just couldn't handle it and "drifted" - not actually fly away.... away from the construction site... luckily it was/is open field behind and then a large fire station complex... we simply allowed the drift to continue to the fire station and in the meantime had one of our crew drive over to secure the area... we landed in their parking lot... safe and sound. We now use Mavic 2'sto fly this site as they can handle the wind much better.

Our contracts call for: weekly stills, bi-monthly video, monthly 360º Pano and monthly NADIR. Occasionally they will ask for an Orthomosaic or some stock pile measurements or contour imaging. (Interestingly when we were first asked to do a stock pile volume measurement we added the caveat that we were not sure how accurate Drone Deploy was in this regard as we had never compared it... so for the first time they used their site engineers to measure the pile from the ground - we used Drone Deploy and Pix4D and were within 3% of their engineers...

Thanks for spending your time writing about it Donnie, yes direct experience it is the best way, meeting the appropriate training and flight time experience, but since drones are close proximity i wonder more about ground risks mitigation of course nothing is idiot-proof, i laughed a lot on this sentence, will use that quote from on.

I fly drones for a living too..well i'm more into training side i'd say but sooner or later i will give a try into full time commercial side as well i'm always open to learn and achieve and try to stay open minded from anyone anywhere at any level.

the fun part is that i achieved good level in the air knowledge but i lack on ground,but also every flight its an experience different from each other.

time ago my dream was filmmaking and i did land few jobs on it before covid then blackout.. but right now im more focused on certificate more and more achievements.. inspection and training sooner or later i will go back to what my aim was.
im always keeping an eye on people behaviour , no injury, minor injury..minor damage..destruction of propriety and in consideration eventually a casualty even if its relatively minimal....i consider all if these as european, easa authority and national airworthiness authorities have advocated the adoption of a risk-based approach, whereby regulations are driven by the outcomes of a systematic process...to assess and manage identified safety risks...basically in italy where i come from 60-70% of the geographical airspace is affected by that "regulation" as class golf areas are not entertainig enough haha.

all i can say i never crashed (aside classic fpv crashes) but i've experienced an ulm crash into an aerodrome with a casualty and a double casualty helicopter a crash within 2 miles of sight from me while i was flying my drone...this last year 2021 in february near an airfield..well there people had lots of flying hours more than me..maybe thats why im too focused on safety lately.

im spending lots of time on my drones and even more than before also the client tips side were useful !

as by driving our cars or bikes common sense is the key, what matters most!
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