As an engineer or land surveyor, saying "yes" to purchasing a drone for your business can be a daunting decision. Being as informed as possible before doing so is the best way to ensure that your purchase is an informed one, and that your team is both prepared and able to put that investment to its full potential.
What are the top 6 things to know before buying a drone? Read below to find out:
1. Drones are a long term investment
Drones are an expensive and long term investment, but that doesn't mean they're not a worthwhile purchase. While some drones for commercial use come with smaller price tags, a UAV with high quality surveying capabilities can cost anything between $20,000-50,000. The reason for such a steep price? These are equipped to fly at higher altitudes and are able to collect high-resolution orthophotos which can then be leveraged in your mapping and surveying projects.
Before purchasing a drone, ensuring that it will be put to good use in generating revenue to your business is a crucial step.
2. Getting your drone registered is a priority
You can't just buy a drone and start flying sites. First you will need to ensure that the aircraft is properly registered with the FAA (if in the US), or other national regulatory agency (if outside of the US).
Failing to register your drone with the FAA could result in steep fines and sanctions, but once obtained, registrations are valid for three years and can be more easily renewed at a lower price than expected. According to the FAA, a three year drone registration costs just $5.
3. Consider having an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot on your team
While most drones are exempt from this rule, some of the more powerful aerial mapping UAV aircraft will require you to have a certified pilot on board. This will be the case with any device that weighs more than 55 pounds.
While it may not be needed for a starter or smaller drone, having someone with this certification despite the size of your team will be an invaluable source of knowledge and experience as you embark on a journey towards more efficient mapping and surveying with UAVs, and will certainly pay off over time.
4. Reading and following FAA guidelines is a must
Following FAA guidelines on the general usage and restrictions of UAV or UAS operation is paramount. Some of the most important regulations to follow are allowed and restricted airspace classes, which will determine whether or not you should be flying in a particular area such as airports, government property, protected areas, etc.
5. Drone laws vary by state
Depending on what state you are in, the laws and regulations on drone usage in business and recreational forms will change depending on many variables. Whether it’s population density, state size, or flight zones, guidelines will change based on geographic area, so studying up on restrictions before a flight is key to avoiding accidents or fines.
6. Recognize the stigma behind drone usage, and contribute to changing it
Drones have historically gotten a bad reputation among communities, with mounting concerns of them being used to cause harm, or seen as menacing machines that illegally collect surveillance information.
For many industries, drones and UAVs represent massive growth opportunities through groundbreaking technology implementation. In civil engineering and land surveying, they have already begun revolutionizing site data collection and monitoring. As members of the AEC industry, contributing to a continued positive perception and impact of drones can mean fostering a better environment for innovation within the space.
AirWorks offers a SaaS product that enables firms in the built environment to quickly and easily process aerial data collected with UAVs into CAD drawings, autonomously.