The technology in modern drones has made it possible to operate them with minimal risk of accidents. When crashes and collisions do occur, most are due to pilot error, whether by ignoring safety warnings from the drone, not setting it up correctly before taking off, or flying beyond the aircraft’s limits.
As well as the expense of replacing a crashed drone, accidents can involve damage to property and injury to people in the area. Even if a drone doesn’t hit something, it can cause serious problems if one strays near an airport or into sensitive airspace. There have been cases where runways were closed, and passenger aircraft diverted, because of reports of drones in the area.
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The following tips can help to ensure safe and enjoyable flights with a drone.
1) Study the aircraft’s manual.
There’s an obvious temptation to get a new drone in the air as soon as you open the box, but this is one of the most common causes of accidents. Read the manual as essential preparation before take off. Study the correct procedure for charging the drone and controller, and ensure you understand how to check a GPS signal is available. More advanced drones have auto-landing and other safety features, and it’s important to know how these make the aircraft behave.
2) Practice in a safe environment.
It can take some time to get to grips with controlling a drone, so practice in a wide open space. Anyone who plays video games should find it easier to master the fine joystick movements required. Keep the aircraft well away from buildings, people, and highways. Practice simple maneuvers like circles and figures of eight to develop your flying skills.
3) Fly within the law.
Drones are relatively new technology, but most countries have introduced laws to control how owners operate them. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the use of unmanned aircraft in the US. Laws frustrate some drone pilots, but they are they primarily for safety. For example, it’s illegal to fly unmanned aircraft near airports and over large crowds in most countries.
Drone flying regulations in most countries require a pilot to maintain a direct line of sight with their craft. It’s helpful to understand airspace classification wherever you’re flying, and you should know the maximum allowable altitude.
4) Avoid adverse weather.
High winds, rain, and extreme temperatures aren’t good conditions for drones. Strong winds can make it hard to control an unmanned aircraft, and there is an increased risk of crashing during landing. Check local forecasts before take off, and keep an eye on conditions during a flight. Rain, snow, and fog can interfere with the electronic components and batteries in a drone.
5) Know your limits.
The popularity of drone racing means some pilots are keen to push their aircraft to maximum speeds. There is also a dangerous trend for taking unmanned aircraft beyond recommended altitudes. Always fly within your limits. As you gain experience, you can experiment with faster drones, but always consider the risks. If you’re using a drone to shoot photographs or video, slow movements are more efficient.
6) Know what to do in an emergency.
The safety features in advanced drones can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. However, a pilot must know what to do in the event of an emergency. Examples include loss of signal, sudden loss of power, or failure of one of the motors. Practice what you do in the case of an emergency, so you deal with it calmly if something ever does go wrong.
Drone flying is an exciting new hobby, and the technology is developing rapidly. New models are easy to fly and have the ability to avoid collisions, but safety remains an important factor.