Power play: don’t let your drone fall flat

Image: Flickr | Björn CC BY 2.0

‘Fuel in the tanks is limited; gravity is forever.’

This long-standing proverb still applies to even the most modern forms of aviation, and remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) are no exception.

But what might be obvious to some isn’t for others, even though it should be close to the top of the pre-flight checklist—do I have enough power to land safely?

These three videos show operators who perhaps didn’t ask this question, and as a result had to forgo their own personal comfort (and possibly even safety) to save their drone from a watery death.

All of which probably could have been prevented from simply checking they had enough power in their battery packs before taking-off.

While the videos are entertaining, the German word schadenfreude (which means delight in the misfortune of others) springs to mind, YouTube is fast becoming a repository of how not to fly your drone, providing valuable lessons into the mistakes of others, something to learn by and not replicate.

So next time you take to the skies via remote, remember these three examples of what happens if you don’t ask the question—do I have enough power to land safely?

There are other safety regulations surrounding recreational flight of RPAs that are detailed in the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) subparts 101.

Although these rules are currently under review, they include:

  • You must only operate the aircraft in your line-of-sight in daylight. Don’t let it get too far away from you.
  • You must not fly closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
  • You must not fly over any populous area, such as beaches, other people’s backyards, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals where there is a game in progress.
  • If you are in controlled airspace — which covers most Australian cities — you must not fly higher than 400 feet (120 metres).
  • You should not fly within 5.5 km of an airfield.

You can also download this safety information in the form of a pamphlet from CASA’s website.

(As an exercise you might like to count how many of the Australian rules listed above were breached in the videos)



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