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BrendanS_AVI's Achievements


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  1. Hey @Up Sonder! Love this question. This is something we grapple with frequently at AeroVista Drone Academy. How does one measure experience for a drone pilot? Especially with varying and complex mission profiles (Construction mapping vs. Thermography, ETC. ) This question is especially pertinent when we train pilots on the Public Safety side, because not only does a pilot have to be experienced, but they have to maintain proficiency! A 500hr pilot who hasn't flown in 6 months has plenty of experience, but over time skills get rusty. This is why the FAA requires 90 day currency for manned pilots to carry passengers, and biannual flight reviews to keep a pilot's certificate active. So here's my opinion, which is entirely based upon my experience instructing drone pilots of all backgrounds from former airline pilots getting into the unmanned world, and those with zero aviation background staring totally green. First, let's define "experienced" What I would consider an "experienced" drone pilot is one that I would trust flying under my authorizations, waivers and insurance without creating significant spikes in my blood pressure. This is someone who's had enough flight hours to see some emergencies, bad weather and complicated airspace. This is someone who's encountered adversity and demonstrated their ability to sort it and keep flying safely. They don't need to be Chuck Yeager, but they need to be independent, confident, and safe. An "experienced" and "flight ready" drone pilot has logged between 100 and 150 total flight hours, with at least 3 hours in the preceding 90 days, and 10 hours "on type" (on the make and model they intend to fly) Why so rigorous? With very few instructional standards, and the constant progression of automation technologies, the role of PIC becomes less and less about physically flying the Aircraft. This is a real double-edged sword for the student drone pilot. Usually, when someone learns a skill, they follow the following progression, which can be described by the following thoughts: Unconscious Incompetence. "PSSSH this is EASY! I'll master this overnight" (Don't know what you don't know) Conscious Incompetence. "Woah, okay. I now know how much I don't know" Conscious Competence. "I can do this, if i focus on it" Unconscious Competence. "I can do this without thinking about it" This progression applies to almost anything. Learning to fly, learning to drive, even learning a musical instrument. The problem is, in order to progress, a learner must first be confronted with the fact that they don't know what they don't know. When I learned to fly an airplane, this became very apparent very fast. The problem with cheaper and more available automation, is it allows new pilots to become somewhat successful (IE, not break anything for a while) before they are confronted by their own lack of proficiency) When I was a kid, radio controlled helicopters had little to no automation. I bought one, thinking it would be easy to fly. It ended up looking like This and I was immediately confronted by just how little I knew. Necessity is the impetus to learning. if you don't feel you NEED to know something, you WON'T learn it. Over time, a pilot builds confidence. If that confidence building in't peppered with minor emergencies and uncomfortable situations. That confidence turns to complacency and in aviation, Complacency Kills. If I where to ask you, "Which group of pilots are most likely to crash" you'd probably say, "Student Pilots, because they have the least experience!" but you'd be wrong. In fact, the AOPA's Nall Report on aviation accidents, lists low time Private Pilots as the most likely to cause accidents. nearly half the accidents reported where caused by Private Pilots. But why does that happen? They have certificates so shouldn't they know more, and therefore be safer than than the students? Here's the problem: They get cocky. Just like the 16-year-old kid with a brand new driver's license, they've been through all the training they've been out on the road and they think they know everything there is to know. Until they get confronted by their lack of proficiency. Or in my case when I was 16, my neighbors mailbox. So What does all this mean for drone pilots? As helpful as automated modes are (secretly, I love flying the DJI birds in P-GPS) they can cause the really insidious problem of brushing a pilot's lack of skill under the rug. Essentially allowing them to build hours, without building experience. This building of hours in turn causes vastly increasing confidence causes pilots to feel comfortable cutting corners, skipping steps, and flying "on the edge" Problem is, all that shiny new obstacle avoidance and automation only works well under perfect conditions. Unfortunately, the real world is filled with bad GPS reception, high winds and dark skies and often times those systems fail. As a result, with no substantive airmanship skills to fall back on, drone pilots crash. with little guidance from the FAA as to how to train pilots beyond 107, it's incumbent on us in the industry to set the expectations and training standards for tomorrow's pilots. While it's obviously not of the same risk profile as a manned aircraft, no serious industrial user can afford to have pilots ditching Phantoms after a magnetometer failure, or having CFIT (Controlled Flight into Terrain) losses on construction sites with tall cranes. It's simply not enough for a pilot to have just flown a certain number of hours. Its paramount that they can demonstrate proficiency and recency along with experience. We as an industry have the opportunity to be the safest sector of aviation. Let's do it!
  2. Good to see another FT-550 in here! I keep mine on my belt pretty much anytime I'm in controlled airspace, or less than 3NM from a non-towered field or heliport with established CTAF. I remember on my 1st flight deep in the Class B back in the 333 and Standard COA days they had me "establish and maintain" over the handheld. That was wild, At that point I'd been a pilot for over a year and never been cleared into the Class B flying an airplane. After a few "with request" calls the tower called back "Unmanned Rotorcraft Niner Kilo Quebec, Cleared into the Class B Airspace" Pretty cool to be legally mixing it up with the Heavy's! Those where the days... maybe less than a year ago, but days nonetheless
  3. Hey gang, I realize I'm reanimating an old thread here, but I thought I might be able to provide some insight. Aleksandar, based on your initial comment it seems like you're already pretty experienced conducting thermographic inspections by hand. Since that's the case, I wont dive into the theory of thermography and conducting inspections here. We do have an awesome Course on that if you want to check it out! To answer your question about the economics, I'm surprised at the $28/km going rate. In fact, at least in the market I'm used to flying in, (Midwestern US) that would barely cover the costs of someone walking to each pylon with a handheld thermal sensor. And all of that is before you factor in the report generation, ETC. Adding a helicopter to the mix, brings your fixed costs up to about $300-$350 per flight just to run the thing. (aircraft rentals are usually charged by "HOBBS" time, or the time that the engine is running) then, because you cant fly a helicopter and point a sensor (Believe me, I'm an airplane pilot and I cant chew gum and fly a helicopter at the same time. I've tried!) you'll need to hire a pilot. Let's assume he charges about $30/hr. Now, we're up to $330-$380/hr just to get in the air, so before you even factor in your up-charge you're up to a fixed cost of almost $3,000 per day. Add your price on top of that, not super competitive. at least in my neck of the woods, thermal pilots are usually paid per day, and when flying a drone can bill anywhere between $2,500 and $4,000 daily including drone, insurance, and data analysis. if a pilot could inspect 20km of lines in a day (a brisk pace, but not impossible) a power company would pay about $125/km for the inspection and reports. That ends up being $.012 per meter with a drone. For a multi-million dollar power company, that's dirt cheap.
  4. @Steve Bennett Right with you. I think that will be a key market differentiation for the rental services. Renting high end, highly specialized equipment to experienced clients. Anyone renting a SenseFly, Precision Hawk, or Trimble aircraft is going to be serious and responsible. An added bonus, is the types of clients that would rent say, an Ebee RTK would be far more likely to treat it with care and keep it in good condition. While that's not a perfect solution to the maintenance question, it would definitely inspire a degree of confidence.
  5. @Up Sonder Hey Derek! Thanks for taking the time to reach out! I think you guys have a great concept. When we launched the thermography course, we had more than a few students asking about rental programs. $8,500-$12,000 is a whole lot to sink on a sensor alone, if yo only plan on making a few flights in the near future, so I see a ton of demand out there especially for the expensive/high performance equipment. I'll send you an email this afternoon, lets set up a time to chat! In the relative vacuum of maintenance standards you have a great opportunity to get out in front of the industry and position yourself as experts providing the highest caliber of equipment. Excited to talk with you further. Let's connect!
  6. @Alan Perlman The team and I where just talking about these guys today! Great concept. Especially for expensive and specialty aircraft and payloads. My biggest question to the Upsonder team would be about maintenance standards, and documentation of maintenance on the aircraft available for rental. To @Uaviator53's point, way back in (manned) ground school, my instructor taught me to never rent an airplane without verifying it's inspection records. (annual, 100hr, ETC) Especially if its your first time renting from a particular flight school. Reason being, it is incumbent on the Pilot In Command to verify that an aircraft is airworthy. Period. For example: If I where to rent my favorite sport plane that's a few hours past its required 100hr inspection, and If I had an issue with the airplane and made an off airport landing, I would be at fault. The FAA's reasoning in that determination would be that I chose to fly anyway, without verifying airworthiness first. Bringing it back to Drones: So, the good news is drones don't have an "on paper" requirement of particular inspections like airplanes do. The bad news, is this is mostly because our industry lacks standardization around preventive maintenance. DJI, for example won't tell me how long the motor bearings in the Inspire 1 last, or how I need to keep the landing gear jackscrew lubricated. Most of us pros are meticulous about maintaining our aircraft in pristine condition (our certificates depend on it, after all) but my inkling is those renting on Upsonder will be casual users and hobbyists who want to monetize their AC's downtime. to @Ed O'Grady point about liability, Would I trust my RPC certificate (and maybe manned cert too) to a stranger's equipment? For me, the answer is maybe. I trust my certificate (and my life) to plenty of manned airplanes that aren't owned or maintained by me. However, At least I can verify that they are maintained, and properly so. That puts my mind at ease enough to fork over my credit card and strap in!
  7. Hey Steve, I was advised by an FAA representative in Washington that only airspace authorizations are being approved until June, when the online system is set to change. That being said, I just received a waiver on behalf of a client in the Class D from what appeared to be an FAA-affiliated contractor.
  8. Hey gang! Our company has received numerous airspace authorizations under the Standard COA and 333 process. Under 107, We've gotten a few for the class D and Class C, and one on the way for the B! Here's my secrets: 1. Make a case, and present evidence Take a look at the previous waivers that others where granted. Look for ones that are the most similar to your operation, and resent them as evidence that your operation can be conducted safely. An effective way of phrasing it might be: "Operations shall be conducted pursuant to special procedures provided specified (COA number) presented to (Person/Agency) Use 2 or 3 of these examples, either from 107, Standard COA (333) or preferably both. I always chuckle as I write these, because its the aviation equivalent of "HEY, you let THEM do it!" But it's effective, because it makes it difficult for the inspector to justify a denial on the grounds of safety, specifically because similar authorizations are floating around, and are by the FAA's own admission, not unsafe. 2. Have a map ready! The easier time the inspector has viewing and understanding your request, the better you'll fare. for example: "an area defined as a .25NM radius around (GPS Point) at or below 400' AGL" is hard for an inspector to visualize, and for most of what we're flying, we don't need that broad of a space. The more precise of a location you can give an inspector, the more accurate of a safety determination they will be able to make. If your broad radius crosses approach and departure paths at a nearby airport for example, that'll either hold you up, restrict your altitude or flat out get denied. Ask only for what you need, but give yourself enough wiggle room to be safe. Hope this helps! Good luck!
  9. Slantrange eh? Looks really cool. Haven't had much time to play with that software yet, but it looks really well suited to your app. Would love to see your outputs! Good luck!
  10. My pleasure! I love seeing an ambitious project come to life When we looked into AWS, it was incredible how much processing power you could get your hands on. Not only that, but you only pay for the hours it runs! A p2.16xlarge instance we used had 64 virtualized CPU cores, and 732GBs of ram for something like $11/hr. It ran a 1,500 image map in minutes. Maybe not as fun as building your own rig, But that's more horsepower than I could fit on my desk anyway! I think that's a solid pricing model. Ends up at $6,400 total, minus the fixed costs for aircraft (and XT!) depreciation, insurance, cost of processing and so-on. If you're just providing the Ortho, you'll end up billing out 4,480 for the same amount of work, same insurance cost, same software processing cost, ETC. With the technical expertise that's involved, I think your pricing model is quite fair!
  11. Love to see guys like @Juggernaught pushing the boundaries. Let us know how it goes! If you need help processing all that data, I'd recommend an Amazon AWS server instance!
  12. Got it! Thermal will stitch, but be ready to use serious overlap. I use 90% frontlap and 80% sidelap flying roof missions, and that tends to create enough pixel density to generate a useful point cloud. If you want to be absolutely sure, fly a high overlap grid with a departure heading of 360 (so, north to south) then fly a second grid with a departure heading of either 270 or 090 (straight east or west) then stitch both passes. Make sure your departure headings are upwind if possible, any headings seperated by 90 degrees will work You really need the overlap to provide enough data for the stitching software to work with. The more "pixels on target" you provide the software, the better the Ortho and point cloud will be. Also, radiometrics help immensely, and pick high accuracy GCPs with an RTK GPS if you can. Now, onto the practical. A 2mi2 mapping mission with 90% frontlap and 80% sidelap at 400' would take about 473 minutes to complete. That's 7.8 flight hours, just for one pass. If I had a bunch of room to take off and land, and a bunch of money I'd fly this with a Precision Hawk. I'll assume you don't have $40k to work with, so I'd set up the mission like this. Day 1: RGB Ortho/DSM X3 or X5, approximately 9 batteries. (factoring in +2 for weather related efficiency penalty) Estimate 4 hours onsite. Day 2: N-S Thermal 1st pass: Zenmuse XT, 12 batteries, generate 50% of the North-South scan. Estimate 6 hours onsite Day 3: N-S Thermal 2nd pass: Zenmuse XT, 12 batteries, generate 100% of the North-South scan. Estimate 6 hours onsite. Day 4: E-W Thermal 3rd pass: Zenmuse XT, 12 batteries, generate 50% of the East-West scan. Estimate 6 hours onsite. Day 5: E-W Thermal 4th pass: Zenmuse XT, 12 batteries, generate 100% of the East-West scan. Estimate 6 hours onsite. Yeah, I can see it easily becoming a week of work before processing, so make sure to budget accordingly. Are you planning on using Pix4D locally? or on the cloud? that'll definitely add some time to the process after all the imagery is gathered to make it intelligible. Bottom line, You've got this! It'll just take a little sweat. Estimate accordingly.
  13. Hey Juggernaut and gang, My name Is Brendan Stewart and I taught the Intro to Aerial Thermography course. I've got a fair bit of time on the Inspire and XT, and Alan sent me a note about you're question. Short Answer: Yes, the XT can easily determine soil surface temperature. 2 mi2 would be a haul for the little inspire though. I punched the mission into Drone Deploy for giggles, and at 400' you'd end up needing about 103 minutes of airtime to complete the mission. That's 7 TB48s through the Inspire just to run the path once. Long(er) answer: have a conversation with your client to determine mission goals and outputs. My spidey-sense tells me this is Ag related, or at least a solar study. understand the information they're looking to acquire, and how they intend to use it. I've had a lot of questions from students in the thermography course about Infrared and Ag. Its important to remember infrared is a broad spectrum just like radio waves, and light. The XT and other thermal imagers only look for heat, or long wave IR. Most of the Ag applications use Short wave IR, or NDVI, or both. The Bottom Line: Long wave Infrared (LWIR) imagers like the XT are fantastic tools for making inferences about how heat is transferring through materials. Make sure you clarify what types of measurements your client is requesting ti qualify the opportunity. If you're looking for a simple "hot soil here" reading, the XT will do just fine! Hope this helps!