You should perform a pre-flight check each day before your first flight. This guarantees that you are prepared and ready for any surprises before you get out to your site!
Before you leave for your site
First, check-in with yourself and how you are feeling for the day. You should be well-rested, alert, and confident about flying the mission.
Check the weather
A good weather day for flying your drone has:
- less than a 10% chance of precipitation,
- less than15 mph of wind at ground level,
- 3 miles of visibility from your take-off location, and
A minimum distance of your drone from the clouds must be no less than:
- (1) 500 feet below the cloud; and
- (2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.
If you do get stuck in less than ideal conditions, it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
Check the drone and RC batteries
Are the batteries for both the drone and remote controller (RC) fully charged? Are the sides/top/bottom of the battery flat? If the sides appear rounded or “puffed,” steer clear! A puffed battery increases the chance of a critical battery failure during flight. If your battery appears damaged, abort the mission and order a battery replacement.
Check and format the SD card
Make sure your SD card has enough space for the day’s flight and that it is in the drone. We’ve all done it—getting in the habit of checking your SD card and making sure it’s in the drone before you leave will save the day. You should also reformat the microSD card before the first flight of the day.
Check your airspace
If your site requires authorization, make sure you have uploaded it to the RC and the drone.
Inspect the drone
Make sure that your FAA registration number is visible on the exterior of the aircraft.
Look for abnormalities on the aircraft
- Check for scrapes, dents, loose parts, and damage to the drone's body.
- Look at the body, the motors, the propellers, the RTK module, and the camera gimbal.
- Make sure the motors spin smoothly. Note any damage in your flight log.
- Clean the gimbal lens and all the sensors with a microfiber cloth for optimal performance.
If you discover something concerning, postpone the flight until you are confident in your aircraft’s airworthiness.
When you arrive on site, establish that the mission area is safe to fly.
Check airspace obstacles and note any large vertical objects that may interfere with your flight path. Look for towers, wires, buildings, trees, or cranes—anything that protrudes into the airspace you’ll be flying.
Check ground obstacles or safety concerns
Look for pedestrians, worksite crews, vehicles, and anything that might enter your vicinity while flying and disrupt your operation.
Set up a safety perimeter around your take-off location using cones or other high visibility markers.
On-site mission plan review with relevant parties
Discuss your mission with onsite management, crews working in the area, and your flight crew.
Preparing the aircraft
Remove the gimbal brace and lens clamp.
Turning on the drone with these attached will permanently damage the camera and gimbal.
If you haven’t already, clean the camera lens and vision sensors with a microfiber cloth.
If you haven’t yet, insert the SD card.
Attach your propellers to the drone’s motors.
Check them for any dents, scratches, scrapes, or deformations that could impact the flight performance of your aircraft. Run your fingers over the top and bottom of the propellers to feel for any problems.
Power up the aircraft
First, turn on the Remote Controller (RC) by tapping and then long hold the power button.
Then turn on the aircraft. Tap and then press and hold the power button on the drone.
Position your RC antennas so that they are parallel and facing upwards.
Go to the fly screen and toggle between the camera view and the map view.
Always calibrate the compass before the first flight of the day.
Check the aircraft and RC’s battery status.
Verify that the aircraft sees at least 6 GPS satellites.
Finally, check your return-to-home settings.
Check that the home point is recorded correctly.
Ensure your take-off area is clear of any obstructions or debris, and all personnel is clear of the propellers.
Before sending the aircraft into its survey mission, you’ll want to verify it functions correctly with a short manual flight. Any abnormal sounds, strange vibrations, or odd behavior indicate something wrong with the aircraft.
Check that there are no error messages on the RC and that the home point is correct.
Bring the sticks together and down toward you to start the propellers.
Take the aircraft up to about eye level or higher.
Listen for abnormal sounds from the propellers.
Look for imbalances or irregularities in how the aircraft is flying.
Test pitch, roll, and yaw to determine that the aircraft performs normally.
Now that you are confident that the aircraft is performing normally land the aircraft and plan your mission.
Ready to fly
It may seem like a lot, but once you get in the habit of doing a pre-flight check before each flight day, it will become second nature to you. Going through these checks will ensure that you have a safe and successful flight.
I still can't do it!
We wrote these articles to equip you with everything you need to get the job done on your own, but we understand that sometimes this isn't sufficient.
If you're stuck, the Propeller hardware support team may be able to help. You can contact our hardware support team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.