According to the FAA , there will be close to 7 million drones in the United States by the year 2020. In 2015 alone, 400,000 of them were purchased just as Christmas presents. What is less commonly known is that there are important safety regulations that govern the usage of drones. Also less commonly known is that drones need maintenance, and there is such a thing as drone service. Here are some of the most important things you need to know about your drone:
Your FAA Limits
There are quite a few things required by the FAA if you want to legally and safely operate your drone. Here are just a few of the important requirements:
- You need to register your drone if it weighs more than .55 pounds.
- If you plan on flying your drone within 5 miles of a heliport or an airport, you are obligated to contact the airport and its control tower.
- A drone is not legally allowed to fly higher than 400 feet.
- Any pilot commanding a drone is required to report an accident to the FAA within 10 days, but only if it resulted in $500 or more in property damage or serious injury to a human being.
Drone Repair and Maintenance Are Crucial
To keep your drone flying safely and to avoid expensive accidents, it’s important to get drone service on a regular basis and make sure that there’s nothing wrong with your UAV. In addition to getting regular drone service, here are some important tips for flight safety:
- Always check before you fly. Don’t risk something happening in the air with the drone far away. Make sure that all the systems are running properly, that it’s binding properly to the radio, that the compass is calibrated, and that there is no obvious physical damage to your drone. There’s a reason pilots always check before they get on an aircraft, and you should be doing the same thing with your aircraft even though there are no humans actually in it.
- Check the batteries before you use them and before you charge them. The lightweight lithium batteries that power drones contain a lot of energy. Many of these batteries are made in China, where quality checks are nonexistent. They can be highly dangerous if they explode, which can happen during charging. Never charge your batteries before checking them for physical damage and to see if the cells are balanced. To make sure you don’t see your drone dropped from the sky in the middle of the flight, double check that all the batteries are fully charged before you take off.
- Double check your propellers. The propellers are just about the most important part of your drone, and if they are chipped or come loose in some way you can get some really bad vibrations that can make your drone un-drivable or, in worst case situations, even rip it apart. Make sure you check your propellers carefully before any flight. Between flights, it’s crucial to keep your propellers stored carefully.
- Keep your software updated. There are always bugs in software and developers are constantly finding and eliminating these bugs. That’s why it’s crucial that you always check for updates and make sure you install them so your drones fly safely.
- Be careful where you fly if you’ve had any issues recently. If your drone has been crashing more often, has experienced some stuttering in the motor, or you has been having issues with a connection to the radio, it’s not safe to fly near people or in inclement weather. Don’t take the chance and you’ll have nothing to regret later.
- Don’t fly on beaches. This is a terrible thing to say, because beaches are a great place to fly drones. But if you tend to crash, do not fly your drone on the beach. The iron particles in the sand are attracted to the magnets in the motor. When they stick, it will stop spinning smoothly. Then you’ll be stuck paying for drone service.
Drones are lots of fun, but make sure you’re operating them safely and legally. Keep them in good repair, seek out drone service regularly, and be safe up there!