DJM Aerial Solutions: The Importance of Pre-Flight Checks
Recent news feeds across the world reported that a rogue drone caused massive disruption and delays due to its proximity to Gatwick airport, giving us commercial drone pilot further bad press. Several flights redirected and many more delayed causing massive disruption and giving our industry more negativities. This type of incident does emphasize the need for thorough pre-flight checks of all unmanned aircraft.
We are still unsure whether this “rogue drone” around Gatwick was under the control of its pilot or whether it was a fly away or just amateur behavior. Either way, it strengthens the argument that pre-flight checks are absolutely imperative and proper training is a prerequisite within this industry.
Being able to plan flights using relevant aviation charts, checking the class of airspace, being capable of identifying area NOTAMs and being confident enough to report an incident to the correct pre-notified authorities if things go south, is just a small part of being a proficient commercial drone pilot. We can be sure if these protocols were followed correctly then the issue at Gatwick Airport would have been minimised
Unfortunately, with the current popularity of the unregulated consumer drone market, there will be more of these incidents to come. It is unlikely that any regulations will change unless there is a serious incident which could well have occurred at Gatwick Airport.
We as drone pilots need to be stringent with our procedures and ensure that we adhere to our operations manuals. Carrying out our work in a professional safe manner will ensure we are well ahead of the game. Hopefully splitting the deck in the eye of the general public allowing them to identify the professional drone pilot over the general consumer. This will certainly help achieve a solid repertoire within the industry.
We as commercial drone pilots must not fall victim to complacency as our departments grow in numbers and our fleet of equipment and hardware becomes less familiar. Drone pre flight checks are very different for every unit and each with its own operational procedure. Things could get confusing at a fast pace and if these procedures haven’t been practiced and the pilot is unfamiliar with the emergency procedures, things may start to go downhill and without correct regulations in place people lives are put at risk and our industry receives further negative press….
DJM Aerial Solutions have developed a system to avoid this. We issue each pilot with an operational checklist that must be completed prior to take off. Each check list is different to each individual aircraft in use and allows the pilot to carry out their own risk mitigation relative to their current location. It includes the telephone numbers and contact details of all relevant personnel on site and includes contact details of all local emergency services and ATC towers. The pilot in command is also expected to log details of any airspace requirements and have contact details on hand of any companies within the area that may require informing if the drone happens to become unresponsive, after all, emergency protocols have failed (which is extremely rare if all pre flight checks have been carried out according to schedule).
These are a few of the many procedures that we must adhere to in prevention of incident or near miss and obviously protocols that must be practiced if the unthinkable becomes apparent. Efficient practical and theoretical training combined with extensive practice in ATTI modes are also obvious key indicators of a great drone pilot
This is the noticeable difference between a professional commercial drone pilot and Joe Bloggs who has purchased a drone from the nearest retailer and decided to sell their services to anybody that will hire them. Without the correct knowledge within this field, Joe Bloggs has the potential to seriously injure somebody or potentially cause colossal damages.