BVLOS Waiver: Here’s What You Need to Know

How to Use Your Drone Beyond Visual Line of Sight

Many technological advances within the drone industry are limited in real-world applications, due solely to unfavorable regulations.

For example, in the United States, commercial drone pilots must always maintain a visual line of sight with any drone they are operating. While technology allows for flight well beyond this limit, such operation would be illegal without changing regulations.

A classic example of the negative impact of this regulation can be found in oil pipeline inspections. Pipelines extend for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles across vast landscapes.

Drones can cover these distances much more efficiently than humans can. However, under current regulations, operators are required to move every two-to-three miles in order to keep the drone within sight. Thus, the benefit of using the drone is not maximized.

Thankfully, if you’re willing to do the work, you can get a waiver from the FAA, or other airspace authorization body, to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).

While getting that waiver is possible, you’re more likely to be approved with expert help. Here’s what to know about the BVLOS waiver.

What is a BVLOS Waiver?

Each country has its own rules and regulations regarding a BVLOS waiver.

As an example, we will use the United States. Once a commercial drone pilot has a Part 107 license from the FAA, that pilot can begin flying … within the license’s limits.

 

Related: The Benefits of Part 107 Test Preparation Courses

 

Every remote pilot in command must operate the drone in a manner that allows them to see the drone and its orientation at all times. With a Part 107.31 Visual Line of Sight Aircraft Operation waiver, though, you can fly without having a visual fix on the drone.

For example, let’s assume that you’re flying your drone around a large, cylindrical storage tank at an oil refinery inspecting for signs of corrosion. If you only have a Part 107 license, you will need to walk around the tank as your drone inspects it, always keeping an eye on its location.

With a Part 107.31, you can let the drone fly behind the tank — out of your line of sight — and complete the task more quickly.

How to Get the BVLOS Waiver

The FAA has issued very few Part 107.31 waivers.

In fact, as of October 2020, only 61 have been approved. By comparison, the FAA has issued well over 4,000 waivers for flying at night.

Your hopes of getting a waiver will depend on the strength of your BVLOS waiver application. Given the low number of approved applications to date, you’ll want to consult an expert.

 

Related: UAS Night Operations – Are You Still in the Dark?

 

While there’s no template for a successful BVLOS waiver published by the FAA, successful applications have had a few common elements which you should include to increase your chances of approval.

Let’s break those elements down a bit.

 

Standard Operating Procedures

 

Standard operating procedures highlight the professionalism and experience inherent within your organization.

These should be well organized, and cover everything from onboarding and training to all aspects of drone operations in which you or your pilots participate. To increase your chances of success, make sure that your procedures include the type of work you are looking to accomplish with a BVLOS waiver.

 

C2 Equipment

 

Next, you’ll want to include a detailed explanation of your command & control (C2) equipment.

C2 is an essential part of the application. The FAA will want to know what transmitters you are using to control the drone, in great detail.

You’ll also need to identify the maximum range of your transmitter ,and how you plan to maintain control of the drone at all times. To do that, make sure to include information about the equipment’s FCC ID number, both on the ground control station and on the drone.

 

Flight Safety

 

Flight safety is perhaps the most critical section.

After all, you are requesting a waiver based on your assurance that operations will remain safe at all times. It’s best practice to have a well-developed mitigation plan for every reasonable situation which could arise.

That plan should include a synopsis on how you will detect and avoid collisions, or other dangers. This will be a significant focus of the approval process.

Ready to Apply?

Getting you BVLOS waiver is possible, but you’ve got some work ahead of you.

You’ll need to carefully construct a thorough application, which takes time, resources, and extensive knowledge of your use-case. Want to improve your chances? We’re here to help!

At Consortiq, our drone consultant team specializes in creating the right plan for your specific situation. Whether you need to fly at night, over people, or beyond your line of sight, we’ve helped companies around the world obtain specialized waivers in order to achieve their specific goals. We’re ready to help you get your drone safely into the sky.

And, we’ll train your team of pilots to ensure that you’re always within airspace & safety guidelines.

Would you rather just hire a team to go out and do the work for you? We do that, too!

Just complete the form below to get started with your risk-free consultation today!

 

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

The Benefits of Part 107 Test Preparation Courses

Passing the FAA’s Part 107 test is the first step in becoming a commercial drone pilot.

If your business is looking to develop an in-house drone program, all pilots will need to pass the exam. As with most exams, preparation is key to success.

While there are many methods for learning the material, few are as beneficial as Part 107 test preparation courses offered by experienced drone consulting firms.

The Part 107 test covers a range of topics, including airspace classification, weather, UAV loading, airport operations, and more. For anyone without an aviation background, the material can be a bit overwhelming at first.

With expert assistance, the seemingly complicated will become easy to understand.

Many Part 107 test preparation courses have FAA exam pass rates in the high 90% range.

The Exam Itself

Before we discuss the merits of test preparation courses, a quick breakdown of the exam will explain why learning from experts is helpful.

The test is 60 multiple choice questions, each with three answers (A, B, and C) to choose from. The two-hour exam requires a score of 70% or above is passing.

There are five major categories covered, which test a person’s understanding of general aeronautical knowledge. The categories, and the percent of exam questions each represents, are 15-25% related to regulations, 15-25% cover airspace & requirements, 11-16% deal with an understanding of weather, 7-11% for loading and performance, and finally, 35-45% focus on operations.

One of the areas many people learning the material for the first time have difficulty understanding is how to read sectional aeronautical charts (sectionals) and their many symbols.

If you have never seen these charts, they are 1:500,000 scale maps with information on airspace classification and restrictions every pilot needs to understand.

Questions will test the examinee’s ability to plot locations using latitude and longitude coordinates and identify features at plotted grids. Sectionals are one of the best topics to have an expert teach you.

The benefits of Part 107 test preparation extend well beyond questions related to sections.

Part 107 Test Preparation

Except for a few people (primarily individuals who already have a pilot’s license), just about everyone will benefit from a Part 107 test preparation course.

If you or your team are still considering whether test preparation is necessary, consider these benefits before deciding to learn the material on your own.

Test preparation courses are designed and taught by experts in the field. It is one thing to read the information from a slide or study guide, and another to understand the material through first-hand experiences.

Well-established programs for Part 107 test preparation are built by people who have years of experience in general aviation and, specifically, UAVs. Having taken and passed the test, these individuals understand the types of questions present on the examination. They also know how to teach others the material and address any problem topics for students during the course.

In addition to learning from experts in the field, test preparation courses make the test-taking process easier.

Studies have shown that students who participate in test preparation courses have higher confidence levels in the material and exhibit lower anxiety levels during the exam.

Part of the expert instruction received during Part 107 test preparation courses is advice on efficiently answering questions. Instructors discuss the amount of time each question should take and when it is time to skip a question and return to it later.

This builds confidence that keeps a study calmer during the examination.

Another valuable part of Part 107 test preparation courses relates to additional study materials.

Flashcards, study guides, slide presentations, and practice exams all help students master the material. A deeper understanding is developed in students through supplemental materials. Studies have also shown these learning aids lead to higher test scores.

The Part 107 exam covers a lot of material that most people will have never seen before. Test preparation services are a great way for the average person to learn the material and pass the exam. 

Take advantage of the experts who design and teach preparation courses. The time and money you invest will increase your chance of passing the exam and make the entire experience more enjoyable.

Ready to book your FAA Part 107 Essentials Plus course? Get started here, or complete the form below to connect with our team!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

How drones could prevent utility equipment from starting forest fires

The 2018 Camp Fire forest fires resulted in over $16 billion in damage, claimed 85 lives, and was recorded as the 13th deadliest wildfire in California’s state history.

According to state investigators, the fire started when a hook on a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) electrical transmission tower (Tower 27/222) broke during heavy winds, dropping a wire which threw sparks into the dry brush below.

PG&E has received a lot of flack for failing to take basic precautions which would have likely prevented this catastrophe.

What do you mean?

For starters, the Caribou-Palermo transmission line – of which Tower 27/222 was a part – was originally built in 1921, meaning it was around 97 years old in 2018.

Despite owning the line since 1930, PG&E had not replaced much of the original hardware. State regulators claim that PG&E’s inspection and maintenance plan for the transmission line prior to the fire was “ineffective,” and a report by the Butte County District Attorney called PG&E’s reliance on outdated and under-inspected equipment “negligent and reckless.”

An obvious way for PG&E to protect its credibility, moving forward, would be to make a notable improvement in its inspection protocol.

I’m guessing this snapshot is going to have something to do with drone inspections.

That’s right.

But, let’s do an overview of what’s being inspected first.

PG&E operates over 5,000 miles of high-voltage wires in Califirnia’s drought-prone forests. To make matters worse, the Wall Street Journal analyzed PG&E’s 20 “worst performing lines,” and found that 16 of them are in high-risk fire areas.

The combination of failure-prone transmission lines in fire-prone areas is thought to be a significant and unacceptable hazard, and a recipe for a repeat of 2018.

Part of the solution is more frequent inspections, but many lines and towers are hard to reach, making those inspections and resulting repairs difficult. That’s where drones come in.

PG&E is upgrading its system inspections program by using drones, computer vision, and machine learning, to better detect problems before another fire is started. 

How do drone inspection solutions work?

In a nutshell, drones are deployed to gather data such as thermal imaging, LiDAR, and sometimes multispectral imaging, for critical infrastructure, such as distribution poles and transmission towers.

This generates terabytes and terabytes of data.

Computer vision and machine learning are then trained to classify this data and identify subtle deviations from the norm, such as the beginnings of corrosion or other damage to components.

This helps utility companies prioritize which components to replace or keep a close eye on before things get out of hand, as they did in the case of the Camp Fire.

How far along is PG&E’s program?

PG&E’s program — which has been in development since at least 2016 — is currently being used to predict how transmission equipment will handle high-wind events, to help operations staff prioritize maintenance work, and to help PG&E leadership decide whether to shut off power to a high-risk area during severe weather conditions.

Although high fire-risk areas are a top priority, the plan is to expand to lower risk areas and inspect over 15,000 miles of electrical lines in 2020.

What are the main benefits of a drone inspection program like this?

There are many.

First, these types of programs can relieve inspectors and electrical workers of routine tasks. For instance, during the inspection process, a program like the one described can alleviate the need to scan hundreds of images of each structure in a high-fire-risk area to find a right-of-way or access path for maintenance and repair workers.

This allows for more focus to be put on identifying and mitigating fire risks. 

Second, once the computer vision and machine learning are adequately trained, these programs can reduce human error and speed up response time when issues are found. 

Finally, by reducing the need for manned inspections, drone inspection programs can reduce safety hazards for the inspection crews of utilities companies like PG&E. (For more information on how drones improve infrastructure inspections, see our article, “Three Reasons Drones Improve Infrastructure Inspections.”)

Will this program prevent future forest fires?

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) estimates that about 10 percent of the state’s wildfires are triggered by power lines.

A 10% reduction in wildfires would be a notable accomplishment for California, especially given the large scale of recent incidents, such as the Camp Fire.

(It’s also worth noting that federal investigators are looking into whether the more recent Bobcat Fire could have been caused by another utility company’s faulty equipment.)

The good news is that PG&E’s case seems to be inspiring other utility companies to develop similar drone programs. At the end of 2019, San Diego Gas & Electric started using drones and computer vision to inspect its distribution equipment in high-risk areas.

And similarly, in March of 2020, Southern California Edison announced that it was piloting a program that uses drones to inspect distribution and transmission lines in high-risk fire areas.

But unfortunately, better inspections by themselves will not eliminate the risk of utility-driven forest fires.

California has 25,526 miles of higher voltage transmission lines, and 239,557 miles of distribution lines, two-thirds of which are overhead, according to the CPUC. 

Since it’s so hard to maintain and inspect overhead lines – especially old ones –  many have suggested that the only truly effective way to prevent future forest fires is to move the lines underground, where harsh weather conditions are less likely to cause sparks.

But, according to PG&E’s website — Facts about Undergrounding Power Lines — it costs about $3 million per mile to convert underground electric distribution lines from overhead lines, and it costs $800,000 to build a mile of new overhead line.

So, until residents of California are willing to experience a massive hike in electricity costs, it’s likely that drones will be critical to minimizing the risks brought about by California’s aging electrical infrastructure.

Miriam Hinthorn - Contributing Author

Miriam Hinthorn - Contributing Author

Miriam Hinthorn is an experienced management professional who is currently pursuing her master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy at MIT while serving as principal consultant at Consult92.

Miriam developed a love for UAS technology when she served as operations manager at Consortiq. Today, having completed over 30 successful projects in 10 countries, she loves solving a wide variety of logistical, technical, and cultural challenges for her clients so that they can focus on what care about most.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

How to Pitch Drone Solutions to Leadership

The coronavirus pandemic placed a strain on many businesses. 

With a projected 5.2% reduction of global GDP in 2020, most everyone has felt the economic impact of the virus.

Some industries, such as tourism, will lose trillions of dollars in revenue, and millions of jobs worldwide. Other sectors might feel less of an impact, but they’re still taking the time to decrease spending as a precautionary measure.

Regardless of how severe the pandemic’s impact has been on your business, you have likely seen a decrease in expenditures. It’s human nature to be averse to change in times of uncertainty.

That response is, at times, unfortunate, particularly in the business world. That’s because, during times like these, exploring new technology may be most advantageous for the future.

Perhaps, before the pandemic, you read about drone solutions for commercial applications, and the many potential benefits the technology could offer your business or organization.

Maybe you’d like to explore adding drones solutions to your company, but you’re sure how to sell the idea to your leadership team. Decreased company spending may even have you concerned about discussing adoption of UAVs into the organization.

Of course, that’s perfectly normal. And, with proper preparation, you can overcome it.

Let’s discuss a few considerations on how to take advantage of the current economic conditions to successfully pitch bringing drones into your organization.

Drone Solutions Implementation: Making it Pitch Perfect

Investing in new technology can be a tough sell in any economic environment.

When looking to convince your supervisor to consider UAV technology, it is essential to present your findings in a manner that shows your understanding of the topic.

Remember, drone consultancy firms are a fantastic resource when researching drone applications and putting your case together for UAV integration.

Organize Your Presentation

First, make sure to properly organize your presentation.

Drones are proven, useful tools in a wide range of industries, so there’s plenty of available information. Make sure you understand the different types of drone hardware, payloads, and training needed to operate each platform. And, make sure you’re comfortable with explaining which ones are best suited for your specific use cases.

To ensure that you have an expert perspective, it’s best practice to speak with a drone consultancy firm, as consultants add in-depth knowledge based on experience designed to make your presentation a success.

Get the facts together on drone capabilities, as well as their limitations. Design your presentation so that the facts speak for themselves.

A well-organized brief will hold your audience’s attention and make it much easier for you to present your case.

Create a Unique Business Case

Next, show you understand how UAV technology applies to your specific business.

For example, drones are excellent tools in precision agriculture, discussing multispectral imagery may not be helpful if your primary business is in construction. Identify and present use cases from within your sector.

Also, you’ll need to identify specific benefits relevant to your company’s needs. Consider which of the many advantages drones provide will be most important to your supervisor, then break it down in a way he/she will understand.

Start Small and Build as Needed

While you may envision a fleet of UAVs and teams of pilots joining your organization, your supervisor perspective may see that as too much too soon.

Often, a trial program is the best way to generate buy-in from leadership.

Look to propose drone solutions designed to capture low-hanging fruit, such as improving safety by keeping people out of harm’s way. Small gains during a trial period are easy to transfer into more comprehensive programs at a later time.

And, of Course, ROI

Perhaps to best selling point from a supervisor’s perspective is the return on investment (ROI).

In most cases, ROI calculates what the company needs to invest in drone technology and how long it will take to see a return. This financial calculation is pretty straightforward, but it should not be the only way you discuss ROI.

Investing in new UAV technology can, of course, produce a financial return. But, other returns are worth discussing with upper management as well.

UAVs have given many industries improved safety ratings, eliminated redundancies, enhanced security, and provided customers with better products or services than realized through traditional methods.

Bringing It All Together

Drones solutions have been successfully proven across a wide range of use cases.

With a little research, and even some assistance from UAV consulting firms, you can successfully pitch exploring drone usage in your organization.

Creating an organized, factually supported brief with a focus on ROI is the best approach for briefing supervisors on the benefits of UAVs.

Ready to make your presentation? We’re here to help!

From operational support and drone training solutions, to online consultation and drones-as-a-service, our team of UAS experts is here to help you present your case and accomplish your goals!

Complete the form below to schedule a consultation today!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

Here’s How Drones Improve Workplace Safety

There is often an understandable hesitation in moving from established methods towards adopting new technologies.

A Pew Research Center study found that only 28% of Americans liked to be early adopters of new innovations. Many organizations tend to wait for technology to prove itself before moving away from their current methods of addressing a problem or need.

One of the more recent technological advancements some people are hesitant to adopt are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. Common reasons for the hesitation are privacy concerns, a lack of confidence in the technology, and perceived costs.

Additionally, there are concerns over regulatory conditions and legal variations from country to country.

Unlike other newer technologies, drones have already proven themselves. The list of successful use cases across many industries continues to grow every day. It is a fact that drones are a sustainable and economical solution for many applications.

For those looking for an additional reason to consider implementing drones into their operations, one of the most convincing arguments is related to safety.

Dangerous Conditions

Collectively, mankind has made incredible advancements.

From landing on the moon to harnessing the atom’s power, humans have accomplished much in the last 100 years alone. And yet, although we continue to discover and innovate, some of the most well-developed nations in the world still suffer from workplace fatalities.

Between 2018 and 2019, the United Kingdom reported workplace 147 fatalities. The number one cause of death in these cases was listed as falls from a height.

During the same period in the United States, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration reported a staggering 5,250 fatalities occurring in the workplace. Falls were again the largest cause of death (highway collisions were excluded from this count).

Many of these fatalities involved dangerous work tasks, such as utility inspections, that could have been accomplished by drones.

Part 107 Drone Pilot Training - Drone solutions - Consortiq
Improving Safety with Drones - Man flying a drone over a job site.

Drones, A Safer Solution

With so many fatalities, leaders and decision-makers must do everything they can to keep their employees out of harm’s way.

Safety discussions and personal protective equipment help mitigate situations like falls from a height. However, they cannot prevent them.

The only way to ensure some of these fatalities will not occur is to completely remove people from dangerous environments.

Drones are ideally suited to complete many of the tasks that place humans at dangerous heights.

Visual inspections of wind turbines, for example, put people hundreds of feet in the air. Inspection personnel are suspended with ropes as they methodically search for defects in the rotor, nacelle, tower, foundation, and electrical system of each wind turbine.

During the entire process, people are in danger of falling. Drones, on the other hand, can complete much of the inspection process without ever placing people in danger. Additionally, the versatility of payload options can allow for much more detailed data collection during the process.

Heights are not the only situations where drones can keep people out of harm’s way. UAVs can operate in smoke, high temperatures, toxic gas, confined spaces, dust, and radiation.

Another example of drones keeping people safe can be found in how we combat fires. Firefighters are often placed in burning buildings where flames, toxic smoke, and falling debris can quickly cause injury or death. Fire departments around the world are finding UAVs as a solution to keeping their teams safe.

Drones can assess the hot spots of a building and provide firefighters with situational awareness before they even approach a burning structure. They can then monitor the situation and keep track of individual firefighter locations, avoiding potential disaster if a team member is in danger. Drones provide an extra layer of safety between firefighters and flames.

Drones, A Safer Solution

With the ability to operate in the austere conditions, drones can easily help to lower workplace injuries and fatalities. In many cases, the technology eliminates the need to place people in dangerous environments all together.

Any loss of life or injury to people in the workplace is a tragedy. It is especially challenging to understand and process the loss when other options could have prevented the fatality. 

If your organization has yet to investigate how drones can improve your operations, ask if they can make your operation safer. You may find the return on invest in UAV technology is in keeping your people safe.

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

Get More Accurate Data in Less Time With Aerial Surveys

There already exists an impressive list of use cases for drones across a diverse set of industries.

Some UAV applications are seeing positive but limited use, such as drones designed for planting trees. Other UAV solutions are becoming more widespread and commonplace. One of the most prevalent UAV solutions is aerial surveying.

Surveying is essential to many of the largest sectors of the global economy. Construction, mining, oil and gas, real estate, and several other industries rely on accurate survey data for building, project management, and other onsite operations.

Traditionally, these industries have used ground survey methods to collect the data needed to create outputs, such as 3D models, topographic maps, volumetric estimates, orthomosaics, and other photogrammetry products.

Drones are more cost-effective for the task than land-survey crews. And, for many businesses, they’re the best option available.

The benefits of aerial surveying are fueling greater adoption of UAV technology. If you’re looking for a faster, safer way to conduct surveys, then drone-use might just be the solution.

How Aerial Surveys Work

Drone aerial surveying is a form of photogrammetry, or measuring distance using pictures.

There are several programs on the market that make planning and executing aerial survey flights almost automatic. 

When conducting an aerial survey, remote pilots fly the drone  over the subject area, with the camera pointing downward. As the drone flies on a predetermined course, pictures are taken at different angles and in an overlapping fashion.

Additionally, the drone’s GPS receiver records coordinates for the center point of each photograph.

After photos are uploaded to photogrammetry software, the data is converted into any number of products, such as topographic maps or 3D models.

How Accurate Are Drone Aerial Surveys?

So, how accurate are they?

The short answer is that, with the right drone and additional equipment, they’re just as accurate as ground-based surveys. And, they cover more areas, such as dangerous terrain.

Aerial surveys include both relative and absolute accuracy. Relative accuracy is the accuracy between two images or points the drone collects. Absolute accuracy is how accurate the aerial survey is to the Earth’s surface.

Drones use GPS receivers to record the coordinates assigned to a given image they collect. GPS receivers. on most drones, have high relative accuracy but are not as accurate in absolute terms.

That means the data they collect can quickly be processed into 3D maps and other products, but some calibration is necessary to align with the Earth’s surface and yield survey-level absolute accuracy.

To achieve this, tools called Ground Control Points (GCPs) are added to the aerial surveyor’s kit. GCPs are markers on the ground whose location is recorded using handheld or built-in GPS receivers with a very high absolute accuracy level.

When the coordinates for these points are compared to the drone’s data, the relative data points are calibrated, and highly accurate survey data is produced.

The Benefits of Aerial Surveys

There are several significant benefits to using aerial survey platforms, as opposed to land-based survey teams.

If your business uses land-based teams, switching to aerial surveys can produce a noticeable difference in your bottom line.

Additionally, It saves you a substantial amount of time. UAVs cover a large amount of ground in a short time frame. Some drones are capable of completing surveys 80% faster than traditional methods.

Also, many environments that require surveys are dangerous. Construction sites, open-pit mines, or even areas affected by natural disasters pose severe threats to humans looking to survey the area.

Drones offer standoff from the immediate danger while still allowing for accurate surveys to be completed. Additionally, drones typically do not require an active site to be shut down for your survey team’s safety.

Land-based survey teams often require advanced scheduling and several days or even weeks to complete a project.

And, the low cost of capable UAV platforms allows for most operations to have in-house drone capabilities. This convenience means surveys can be conducted whenever needed, without the hassle of scheduling surveyors or using outside resources.

Aerial surveys with drones are quickly becoming the standard. As technology continues to improve, UAVs will likely command a larger share of the survey market. If you are currently using traditional survey methods, invest the time to investigate aerial survey options further with a qualified consultant.

Bringing It All Together

Aerial surveys with drones are quickly becoming the standard.

As technology continues to improve, UAVs will likely command a larger share of the survey market.

Are you looking to a better way to conduct your surveys? We’re here to help. Whether you want to outsource or create your own in-house program , Consortiq offers Drones-as-a-Service, a full complement of training, and continued operational support.

Ready to get started? Just complete the form below!

Or, click here to learn more about aerial surveys by Consortiq!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

Why Enterprise Drone Training Creates Smarter Drone Programs

Drone Training Goes Beyond Certification

So, you’ve decided to add drones to your organization. That’s a great first step!

Like many other companies out there, you’re probably weighing the benefits of an in-house drone program vs. outsourcing.

If you do a quick Google search — which might be how you got here — you’ll find a long list of consultants looking to sell drones and help remote pilots pass the initial drone operator certification test.

Sure, those consultants serve their purpose. But, more often than not, the services they offer are limited in scope. Whether it’s the A2 CofC, Part 107, or other UAV operators’ licenses, remote pilot certification is only the beginning.

Within the UAV industry, several courses exist beyond certification. Some of the most powerful applications undertaken by drone pilots require specialized training to remain both safe and compliant with air traffic laws. Furthermore, additional training will allow you to tap into the full potential offered by adding UAVs to your organization.

Why Additional Drone Training Is Necessary

In most countries, initial drone certification tests are designed to ensure that operators have a basic understanding of aerodynamics, weather, regulations, and safety.

While that certification is essential, it fails to unlock many of the potential uses and benefits of drones.

The most beneficial drone applications — such as aerial surveying, precision agriculture, and utility inspections — require additional training. In order to perform certain tasks, you’ll need well-honed piloting skills, as well as an understanding of sophisticated hardware and software.

Unfortunately, no certification exam will cover all the skills needed to maximize UAS benefits. And, there’s quite a bit of risk involved with trying to develop specialized UAV skills on your own, such as wrecking the drone and/or injuring coworkers.

Types of Training

There are various types of training available to you as a commercial drone operator.

Let’s break them down a bit:

Aerial Mapping

No industry has had a higher adoption rate of UAV technology than construction.

Related: The Benefits of Drones in Construction

In construction, aerial surveying is one of the most used drone applications. Photogrammetry is a fantastic tool, but one that requires focused training and extensive practice.

Additionally, UAS land surveys typically use specialized software and unique hardware, such as AeroPoints, to deliver accurate data collection. Once the data is collected, it then needs to be converted into useful products.

Some of these products might include: Photogrammetric point clouds, triangular surface meshes, textured 3D models, raster digital elevation models for geographic information systems (GIS), orthophotography, and 3D vector data collection.

By taking an aerial surveying course, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills necessary to create a drone program with purpose and direction. You’ll know which drone to buy, what software is best suited for your operation, and how to safely and efficiently gather your data.

Train the Trainer

When you’re invested in a drone program, you might not always consider turnover and changing job roles. Let’s face it, as with any other department, there will be personnel issues.

To start, individuals who operate drones may have other responsibilities within your organization. Perhaps you’re thinking about assigning drone pilot duties to your project manager, who manages several other unrelated tasks. As positions change, you might find yourself with a drone, but without a capable, certified remote pilot to legally operate it.

You’ll want to make sure you have a dedicated person in charge of your drone program at all times … one whose sole mission is to train your team – including new employees. That’s when a train-the-trainer drone course becomes essential.

Train-the-Trainer courses provide you with flexibility. By developing an in-house trainer, you’ll be able to both maintain & grow your program. And, the training can be conducted monthly, quarterly, or even annually. That way, your trainers and pilots will always remain up-to-date with airspace regulations and procedures, and you’ll always have pilots available to keep the program active and thriving.

Build Your Own (Custom Drone Course)

Your company is unique, so your drone program should be unique as well.

You have a specific purpose for drones in mind, and you want to follow a detailed protocol. And, like most of us, you’ve got a budget and time-frame. In this case, you’ll be best suited to design a completely original drone course tailored to your operation.

With a custom UAV course, instructors work with you to explore your business needs and goals. Together, you’ll ably turn them into actionable steps and specific training. Perhaps you want to include initial certification for everyone, then break it out into different applications for varying departments. Make it your own with the support of drone industry experts.

One of the greatest benefits to custom training, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all model, is instruction solely focused on what’s needed. Instead of adding unnecessary steps, your pilots will have direct, easy-to-understand guidelines. As a result, you reduce both cost and downtime.

Bringing It All Together

Learning and growing as your drone program evolves is essential to business success. When it comes to piloting expensive, potentially dangerous equipment, you’ll want to have experts take the controls.

When you get your learner’s permit for driving, you don’t just hop into an 18-wheeler and start hauling freight. You’d need to first learn to drive and earn your license, then you’d have to take specialized courses within that industry to earn another license.

Drone training is sort of like that. You earn your remote pilot certificate, then you train extensively and learn the industry regulations before you fly through a job site filled with millions of dollars of equipment, not to mention a full compliment of employees working on other tasks.

At Consortiq, that’s what we do. We train you and/or your team to fly safely, capture data, and get the most out of your drone program. And, if you decide you’d rather leave it to the experts, we do the work for you. We don’t sell the drones or have any vested interest in specific UAS software. We help you choose and create what’s best for you and your organization.

If you’re ready to take your drone program to new heights, we’re here to help. Need a consultation, or maybe you’re ready to start now? Just complete the form below. We’re global, so no matter where you are in the world, we’re here to help you get to the skies safely.

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

3 Reasons To Use Drone Consultants For Your Business

Governments, businesses, and other organizations worldwide are benefiting from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology.

The disruptive nature of drones has taken many industries by storm. Construction, mining, agricultural, utilities, and more are looking to UAV solutions and reaping the rewards.

Many tasks, such as mapping or inspections, within each sector of the economy mentioned above, are labor-intensive, expensive, and sometimes dangerous. UAVs are proving themselves to provide better results than traditional methods, often at a lower cost and in less time. The efficacy of drones as a force multiplier is fueling explosive growth in the UAS industry.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, as of Aug. 11, 2020, there are over 1.6 million registered drones in the United States. Almost one-third of that number represents drones in commercial operations.

Now is an excellent time to consider how UAV technology can benefit your organization. As with any significant decision, it is always advisable to consult experts in the field. Drones offer many benefits, but to gain the most from the technology, it is best to discuss available options, and even regulations, with drone consultants.

There are three reasons working with drone consultants is beneficial for most entities.

First, drone consultants bring with them a wide range of experience in the field. The best firms have international experience in the industry. Second, consultants can design UAS solutions that fit each organization’s specific needs. Finally, the best firms will help strengthen and grow UAS solutions, as needed.

Let’s break it all down.

Drone Consultants Have Experience

The rapid growth of the UAV industry means the technology is always changing.

Additionally, it means the regulations surrounding the operation of drones is also changing, and they’re different all around the world. While drones have been around for decades as military platforms, it was only in 2010 when Paris-based drone manufacturer Parrot introduced the first consumer drone to the market.

By 2015, over 6.4 million consumer drones were shipped globally. By 2021, that number will have grown to 67.6 million. Growth of this nature is complex and requires experts to understand the rapid change.

Drone consultancy firms are staffed with professionals who have years of experience in both aviation and unmanned vehicles. Many are pilots of crewed aircraft that have a unique understanding of aerial operations.

In-depth knowledge of UAV hardware and software allows drone consultants to recommend ideal solutions for specific needs.

The most reliable firms are international. Organizations such as NGOs, for example, may need to use drones in multiple countries. Experts in international drone consultancy firms understand the rules and regulations related to different regions.

Consultants keep organizations operating legally while maximizing the benefits of drone integration.

They Offer Tailor-Made Solutions

No two businesses or organizations are the same.

UAS consultants start by learning the needs of a business, then act as a guide by investigating how drones can address those needs.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes. Many are quadcopters, but there are plenty of fixed-winged drones as well. UAV payloads can support anything from standard cameras to more advanced systems, such as LiDAR. Understanding the equipment is essential to employing it properly.

Consultants use their experience to recommend the best platform for each desired result. Choosing a platform is only the beginning, though. If an organization is developing an in-house drone program, it will need training on how to operate its drones safely.

Consultants provide a complete solution … not just a packaged drone kit sold to everyone.

Drone Consultants Grow With You

As an established drone program grows, organizations will need support.

Training related to passing the Part 107 remote pilot exam, and actually flying, are only the beginning. There will always be a need for additional training. Whether that training is designed to maintain skills or expand capabilities, experts can provide the appropriate courses.

Consultants can also help with establishing standard operating procedures, developing in-house trainers, a fit-for-purpose UAS operations manual and training, and applying for waivers – such as the daylight waiver that allows you to fly after sunset.

There is no reason to risk litigation or safety incidences due to a lack of understanding of the technology.

Utilizing drone consultants’ strengths to grow an operation safely within local regulations is the best course of action. Expert opinions can recommend training that will keep the benefits coming while mitigating any potential pitfalls. The experience these firms bring with them is worth the investment for most operations.

Bringing It All Together

Utilizing drone consultants’ strengths to grow an operation safely within local regulations is the best course of action.

Expert can recommend training that will keep the benefits coming, while also mitigating any potential pitfalls. The experience these firms bring with them is worth the investment for most operations.

Thinking about using a drone consultant for your business? From operations manual evaluation & support to hardware evaluation, UAS training framework and drone safety audits, we’re here to help!

Complete the form below to schedule a consultation today!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

Drone Delivery Just Around the Corner

The UAV industry has rapidly grown in the last decade.

Commercial drone capabilities, such as LiDAR, seemed like science fiction just ten years ago. Today, however, collecting aerial data and generating a range of useful products has become commonplace.

Significant advancements in design, engineering, and software coding have given drones the power to accomplish much in the last few years. That said, there are some areas in which the platform’s full potential is yet unrealized.

One such application is drone delivery.

 

 

Drone Delivery & Logistics

Professionals in the logistics world spend a great deal of their time on the “last mile problem.”

The digital age allows for many services and products to be accessible instantaneously. Calls, emails, videos, and images are literally at our fingertips whenever we need them. And yet, even with the many advances in technology characteristic of modern societies, this is still not the case for most physical goods.

Once items are shipped from a business to a customer, the logistics of getting those items into often dense population areas efficiently is what the last mile problem refers to. The most important factors in last mile problem solving are route density and drop size.

Route density is the number of drop-off points on a given delivery route. Drop size is the amount of items that can be delivered at each stop.

Each delivery cost will decrease with more drop offs, and with more items delivered per drop off. Many of the largest companies in the world are looking towards drones to help solve this problem.

Google, Amazon, Uber, UPS, DHL, FedEx, and even Domino’s pizza are invested in UAV technology. In fact, one of the first drone deliveries in the world was in 2016 when a Dominos pizza franchise in New Zealand delivered the first pizza via drone. These companies have been very public about the benefits drones potentially bring to their respective businesses and customers.

 

UAS Delivery Regulations & Limitations

There are three reasons why drones have yet to fill the skies with packages and pizzas.

Government regulations, along with poor performance in route density and drop size, are challenges holding back large-scale UAV delivery.

Government regulations that hinder UAV expansion in this area primarily pertain to limitations on commercial drone flights.

Most countries limit commercial drone pilots to flying within the visual line of sight. Regulations also require a human pilot to have control of the drone during flight. Such legal conditions make large-scale drone delivery challenging, if not impossible.

Why Companies Are Still Investing

Fortunately, many of the world’s airspace agencies, such as the FAA and the CAA, are slowly working toward updating these restrictions.

RELATED ARTICLE: EUROPEAN UAS REGULATION FURTHER DELAYED

Several countries currently have trial programs studying how to better manage UAVs in their airspace. Experts in the aviation field believe it is only a matter of time before drones are allowed to autonomously operate around the world.

For route density and drop size, even large operations like Amazon are testing drones that can only deliver one package at a time with a maximum weight of no more than ten pounds. Limitations such as these would make it seem as if drone delivery services will never get off the ground or compete with current methods.

So, why are so many companies still investing heavily in the potential of the service?

Like Amazon, some of the largest investors in the space see these traditional last mile issues as less critical to drones. For example, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has pointed out the large number of people who live within ten miles of an Amazon fulfillment center, and that 86% of all products purchased on the site are under five pounds. Other expects believe 44% of all Americans live near fulfillment centers.

If these numbers are true, once government regulations ease up, the reality of 30-minute drone deliveries may be entirely possible.

Incorporating Drone Delivery

It is highly likely that, within the next few years, we will see the full scale of drone delivery services begin to take shape.

If you’re with a company that has problems with last mile challenges, you should take a serious look now at how drone delivery service can integrate into the current and future operations.

As regulations ease and technology continues to improve, drones may become the most efficient means of product delivery.

***

About Consortiq

Consortiq is a global market leader of custom drone solutions. Our employees are driven by a mission to help corporations and state organisations leverage drone technology to accelerate progress and achieve the success they desire. At Consortiq, we base our solutions on intensive quantitative and qualitative research, hard facts, and deep subject matter expertise. As a talented group of drone and manned aircraft pilots, software engineers, defense consultants, and former air traffic control professionals, Consortiq’s employees understand the intricacies of aerial platforms and are able to provide a wide range of nuanced, effective solutions. 

We have a strong track record of providing training, logistical operations planning, fleet management software, risk mitigation, and legal/regulatory services, to clients in the media, public infrastructure, and public safety industries in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Our accredited training program helps pilots prepare and go beyond the US Part 107 and the UK GVC

Need help developing a safe, compliant, and efficient program? Complete the form below to get started!

 

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!

LiDAR and Drone Uses

When it comes to UAV payloads, thermal and Red Green Blue (RGB) cameras get a great deal of attention.

With low price points, the technology is easily accessible to just about everyone. Several standard drone missions, such as three-dimensional mapping, are effortlessly carried out using it. There are, however, limitations to using only these two types of payloads on drones.

Thermal cameras are ideally suited for inspections where temperature variations are the primary data points. Beyond this function they are, by design, limited.

RGB cameras are excellent tools for photogrammetry. While this survey method is accurate and useful in a wide range of applications, it is also not without its limitations. For example, drones with RGB cameras can survey vacant land in preparation for development. In most cases, the images collected can produce precise three-dimensional models and topographic maps that planners will find useful.

However, if this same land were covered in thick, dense vegetation, the RGB camera would fail to give planners any information on the actual earth’s surface. For this type of analysis, RGB and thermal cameras are not the best tools for the job.

What is LiDAR and how does it work?

Invented in 1961 by the Hughes Aircraft Company, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is ideal for the type of analysis mentioned above. LiDAR systems consist primarily of three components: a laser, scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.

LiDAR works by accurately measuring the distance from the drone to the ground. A laser is fired millions of times from the LiDAR scanner towards the ground as the drone flies a predetermined pattern. As each pulse of light is emitted, the exact time the light is fired is recorded. As the light pulse is reflected, the scanner detects the return and again marks the exact time the light returned.

The specialized GPS receiver records the exact position of the sensor throughout this process. An equation that utilizes the constant speed of light generates a slant range for each beam of light fired. When all the data is compiled, millions of points on the ground produce an accurate representation of the earth’s surface and features above it.

The data points are so numerous and so precise that layers of vegetation or other obstacles can be removed to show the topography of the region. One light pulse can generate multiple returns and thus, layer the area being surveyed. The technology has seen successful use in many fields such as disaster response, high precision infrastructure monitoring, and topographic/hydrographic survey.

 

Types of LiDAR for UAS, and the industries that benefit

UAVs use two types of lidar.

For measuring the earth’s surface, topographic LiDAR is ideal. It utilizes a near-infrared laser for mapping land.

The second type — bathymetric LiDAR — is designed for surveying the seafloor and riverbeds. It uses a green laser to penetrate water, but operates on the same principles as described above.

LiDAR systems on UAS provide professionals across many industries the ability to map the earth’s most challenging environments. The level of accuracy spread across millions of data points is particularly beneficial to construction planners, as well as those monitoring utility infrastructures. Hard-to-see features, such as powerlines, are easily identified by LiDAR. These features can also be isolated from other features, aiding in in-depth analysis.

There is perhaps a no better example of the power of LiDAR than in archeology. The incredibly dense jungles of Central America were home to one of the ancient world’s greatest civilizations, the Mayan. The Mayans built vast cities with massive structures. 

After a mysterious decline and disappearance in 900 A. D., many of their cities were swallowed up by the jungle. Dense jungle canopies all but erased many locations. Traditional investigation methods, such as aerial surveys in aircraft, see only vast expanses of the jungle.

However, LiDAR systems on crewed aircraft and drones are revolutionizing what researchers know about the Mayans. LiDAR can remove the vegetation and show what lies underneath. In some cases, its identified previously unknown locations with tens of thousands of structures. LiDAR is helping to expand this ancient civilization’s study in ways that seemed unimaginable just a few years ago.

Bringing it all together

Drones carrying LiDAR payloads are a power tool.

With only a few years of UAV technology and lidar working together, impossible topographic challenges are becoming increasingly simple tasks. For decision makers in construction, utilities, survey, and research, the advantages of UAVs carrying LiDAR are worth further investigation.

Want to know which drone platform works best for your project? Need help with gathering unmanned data or policy development? We’re here to help! 

Complete the form below to get started!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization? Contact Us Today to Get Started!