Preflight checks of your aerial drone are always a good idea, especially when you’re flying for a client. You may have seen a requirement from your insurance company to follow a written Standard Operating Procedure. That entails a checklist, which helps you to ensure your drone is ready for flight and to carry out its intended mission.
What does the FAA have to say?
The FAA’s position comes from the standpoint of safety of operation. Here’s the relevant sections:
14 CFR Section 107.15 Condition for safe operation:
(a) No person may operate a civil small unmanned aircraft system unless it is in a condition for safe operation. Prior to each flight, the remote pilot in command must check the small unmanned aircraft system to determine whether it is in a condition for safe operation.
(b) No person may continue flight of the small unmanned aircraft when he or she knows or has reason to know that the small unmanned aircraft system is no longer in a condition for safe operation.
FAA Advisory Circular 107-2 (June 2016, active to this date)
Para 5.9. Preflight Familiarization, Inspection, and Actions for Aircraft Operation. At 296 words, I’d rather provide you with a link than repeat it in this blog.
Para 7.3. Preflight Inspection. Ditto, 337 words, so please refer to the link.
Both paragraphs are well worth the five minutes to read.
What does your Insurance Company have to say?
Several insurance companies require aerial drone pilots to follow a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Although your drone manufacturer may not provide one, they’re fairly easy to develop, especially using the information in the FAA Advisory Circular.
Tips for Preflight Checks
Develop your own checklist. We suggest including the following:
Software and firmware are up to date
SD card is installed
Camera lens is clean
Propellers are in good condition
Fresh batteries in your drone, controller, and cell phone/tablet
Develop a mission profile for your client and review prior to flight
Check the weather forecast, note the conditions prior to flight
Take off and hover at 5 feet; check propellers and flight controls
Add to this list as you see fit and go through it every time you fly. Pretty soon, your preflight checks will become second nature.