Story In Focus

“Drone” safety considerations

Drone-UAS over Birds Eye Cove Farm
A drone flight over Birds Eye Cove Farm.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), better known as drones, require special safety considerations. Recently, The Province published a great article: The buzz on drones: Operators need to know how to fly them safely.

Story in Focus recently went through the process of obtaining a Special Flight Operation Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada. It isn’t easy. Transport Canada requires manuals that detail safety, roles, operation and maintenance of each UAS the company intends to use. But it is more than a paperwork exercise. By carefully documenting our procedures, we were able to ensure that safety will be maintained throughout our operation. My background in air traffic control and aircraft maintenance came in useful when preparing the manuals, so did my partner’s technical writing skills.

In addition to manuals, Transport Canada also requires operators to carry liability insurance. Story in Focus carries $2M. We will continue to do our best to ensure that nothing goes wrong, but if it does we have coverage.

Companies wanting to employ the services of a UAS operator should ensure their contractor is properly certified and insured. It is not legal for a company to sell UAS services without a SFOC from Transport Canada. Fines from Transport Canada range from $10,000.00 to $25,000.00. The UAS operator must also be properly insured; otherwise, if an incident happens, your company may be at risk.

The UAS industry is in its infancy and every day there are new uses for this technology. It’s not just for aerial photography. Farmers can use near infrared images to evaluate the health of their crops. Inspections of mining, construction and lumbering sites can be completed at a lower cost and more safely. In an afternoon, a UAS can gather all the information required to calculate the volume of mining stockpiles.

Infrared cameras can show heat loss from roofs or find a lost child in the woods. Images taken by using a UAS can be used to generate 3D models. This enables architects to design buildings in harmony with their surroundings while saving excavation expenses and minimizing environmental impact. These are just a few examples of what can be done. I’m sure you can think of others.

Using a UAS can save money, as long as it is used in a safe manner. That is the purpose of the SFOC process. Obtaining a SFOC helps ensure safety is in the forefront. If you ever want to explore the ways in which a UAS operator could help your company, please give me a call.

The video posted with this blog was a test of a new camera mount.

Greg Nuspel (250-510-7971)

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