Safe “Drone” Operation

UAV / RC Home


The true Threat created by Drones is the dangerous combination of the High Limit Credit Card and Someone in control with no Common Since.

Operating Radio Control or even Automated control / way points at an official RC field operating within the AMA guidelines makes it a no brainier, its when going outside this is when you need to think like a licensed Pilot.

1): Understanding the Air Space System


In the US there are 3 dimensional boundary’s “Airspace” around Commercial Airports, General Aviation Airports, Military areas, even NASA Launch area at the Cape. these can be found on the VFR “Visual Flight Rules” maps. The Free & up to date version can be found at: this is a vast improvement compared to the “sectional” approach that only showed half a Big state like Fl or CO.

airspace 1

Here is an example of Palm Beach International Airport. say for example someone wanted to do a Photo Shoot on PB Island, the first Tear of PBI Class C goes from the Surface to 4,000′ right over the Island. so like it or not this area is with in the airspace. so what can be done? key thing here is it is risky, beyond the Airspace issue if you sit and watch the flight patterns you can see there is heavy Commercial traffic doing take off climb outs or Final Approach right over the Island.

Some of the most expensive Real Estate in the Country is with in PBI’s airspace, so Realtor’s / hired drone operators need to know the rules before getting the shots. Hopefully some kind of long term solution could be cooked up like a waver with a start / stop and max altitude could be set up similar to High Power Rocket Flights.

2): TFR’s

Think taking your shiny new DJI Inspire to Disney world would be Epic? THINK AGAIN! Disney has a permanent TFR over the parks that even apply to UAS. Some TFR’s are well known however others can appear with little notice. If Air Force One decides to visit near by a TFR will be in place during the event = cant fly your stuff with in the area.

3): Weather

Although Many UAV’s can navigate thru GPS alone with Way point and return to Launch Capability this poses huge risk when flying a Drone into non visual / no line of sight conditions. General Aviation & Commercial Aircraft when flying thru Clouds / Weather so dense that they can not Fly thru Ground visual clues, visual separation of aircraft are operating under Instrument Flight Rules. Ground Stations vector aircraft from A to B while watching out for other Aircraft operating under IFR along with meteorological conditions. ADS-B In & Out is a new next step that will give Position & Vector to other aircraft & ground stations. Most “Drones” flying outside of major airports would likely not be picked up by Radar as a significant object. If the Drone is not on an IFR flight plan / with ADS-B & Tran-sever equipment, midair collision risk is very high.


4): Risk Management

1st good rule of thumb is if there is a good Chance a Drone Event / Activity could revive a visit by the Cops, Fire Dept or Local News reporting on something that went bad the preventative action would be not to do it.


5): Propeller Safety


6): Lipo Safety


7): Decent thru Propwash


Fans of the show 80’s action show Airwolf may recognize this picture. Unfortunately Real Helicopters & Multi Rotors need to be careful when descending thru  there own prop wash at a high rate of speed, usual in a vertical direction with no fwd / back, left or right movement. The rotor ends up going thru highly un stable air.

On a multi rotor this can result in high amplitude oscillation that if strong enough can over power the stability control of the flight controller. resulting in a crash. Recovery from this kind of oscillation is to add power. Best solution for a high decent rate is to dive the Multi Rotor or Heli with fwd motion so the rotors go thru clean air. factors where this can come into play is avoiding a mid air or a battery alarm is triggered.


8): Pre Flight

  • Batteries need to be charged with in a few days of flying. typical TX NiMh packs charge over night, typical 3S Flight lipos should read around 12.6V with balanced cells before flight.
  • Check Wiring for any loose or exposed connections, insulation charring etc.
  • Screws, bolts and nuts should all be tight
  • With Battery un-plugged props should be all free to turn with no “higher” resistance compared to the other motors. this may be bearing issues or FOD stuck between the rotors and stators. ether way it can lead to a in flight motor failure.
  • Tri Copter Tilt Mech / Servos should not have excessive slop.
  • If the multi rotor consistently wants to take off crooked or even flips over on lift off run thru a fresh accel calibration on a level surface.
  • For a given flight time & Flight mission, start vs. end voltage drop should be constant. if the voltage drop is significantly more  you may want to investigate your components or batteries as it could be a sign of a problem component.