MarleneG

Cell tower inspections?

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Hi @MarleneG, moved this to a new thread, since the topic of your question is different than the one in the original thread on radio interference.

Few thoughts for you:

  • What are you flying? What's your skill-level? Have you flown for clients before?
  • Do you have any contacts in this industry? Any people you can call to do some research?
  • Re: pricing, run a quick search on this forum for other pricing threads...pricing is relative to your experience, the niche you're operating in, and ultimately the value you bring to the table.

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On March 1, 2016 at 4:41 PM, MarleneG said:

Hi all,

I'm interested in cell phone inspections; where to start? What to charge?

thanks

marlene

Has the answer to MarleneG's question been addressed.  Is there a new thread that I should reference.  I too am very interested in the answer.  I have attended a webinar hosted by RCR wireless where the CEO from ETAK was presenting.  He did not state what he charges however, he did state that on average manned tower climbs range from $2,500 to $5,000 and that a Drone inspection would cost a third of that to half of that depending on the mission.  Here is the link to the webinar if you are interested  

I hope this helps.

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No new threads, but this is a great resource, so thanks for hopping into the conversation, @PJKirkpatrick.

Good news re: the Part 107 rules here in the U.S....you don't need to file any additional paperwork if you're inspecting a tower and flying over 400 feet, as long as you're within a 400 ft. radius horizontally around and above the topmost part of the tower (assuming you're not getting into Class E airspace). Here's an illustration below to reinforce:

5792683b05eaa_MaximumAltitudeLimit-Part1

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I too am interested in drone deployment opportunities etc in the wireless segment. While I continue to research costs for services, agreement details, etc, I wanted to share this recent piece regarding Verizon Wireless and hurricane Matthew and solutions they discovered.

Enjoy.

http://wirelessestimator.com/articles/2016/drones-helped-verizons-network-to-stay-afloat-following-matthew/

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I've spoken with the Director in charge of the Drone program at AT&T.  Unfortunately, they are not accepting any new vendors at this time.  However, they do plan to release a new RFP in the future.  I'm not sure how to get into contact with Verizon yet.  I have also reached out to Montico Inc. which is one of AT&T vendors and there may be opportunities there if you are on the West Coast.   They mentioned they may plan to expand to the Midwest next year but not dates have been provided at this time.

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On 7/22/2016 at 1:39 PM, Alan Perlman said:

No new threads, but this is a great resource, so thanks for hopping into the conversation, @PJKirkpatrick.

Good news re: the Part 107 rules here in the U.S....you don't need to file any additional paperwork if you're inspecting a tower and flying over 400 feet, as long as you're within a 400 ft. radius horizontally around and above the topmost part of the tower (assuming you're not getting into Class E airspace). Here's an illustration below to reinforce:

5792683b05eaa_MaximumAltitudeLimit-Part1

 

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@PJKirkpatrick

Sample Tier 1 carrier docs are attached for your review. For obvious reasons, I removed their name. Hopefully, this helps you and any others investigating options to provide any type of drone related services in the wireless segment...

DRAFT [GENERIC] Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy 092616.pdf

Drone_ amend to the FSA 6 3 16 (002).pdf

Edited by HarDHar
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In the US the cell tower part of the telecomunnications industry has been rolled up into a few very large companies that lease space to the witless carriers.  They are the ones who who are responsible for the inspections and the likelihood that an individual with a 107 will be hired for inspections is unlikely. 

We’ve done quite a few but there are a lot of towers spread all over and the crew spends way more time on the road than in the air.  At the time they didn’t want to pay enough to make it feasible.  

Here’s a short video of an inspection.  Many cell towers are very tall ~300’ which makes dumb thumbing it very difficult,  there’s a lot of RF interference which can interrupt the video feed so you can’t trust FPV, and it usually quit windy so you need a very stable drone.

http://iplayerhd.com/player/82da4bbd-3097-4c0a-ad99-a94680b70139

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Here is a link to a sub-contractor who is looking for tower inspection pilots to work on a per site contract for $100 per inspection. Once proficient, average flight time is estimated to take 30-40 minutes with a P4Pro and auto orbit with POI capability plus keeping the tower centered in the images is one essential flight skill to have. Did not discuss whether or not a VO was also paid for, supplied or required.

https://inspirepilots.com/threads/several-pilots-in-new-mexico-needed-other-areas-developing-quickly.19137/#post-172551

If you have some logged flight time experience, have a part 107, own a drone with a 20Mega pixel camera and meet further qualifications, then you may be selected to attend a 3 day flight school in West Point Georgia to familiarized yourself with their flight application and image collection requirements. The flight school is administered by...Talon Aerolytics

www.talon.io

Another company is also posting adds for tower inspection pilots in UAVcoach Community forum Drone Pilot Talk area...

Working on Tower Inspection project we believe will start first quarter this year. We are looking to recruit 4 - 5 qualified pilots in each of the following states; Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Louisiana, Vermont, New Hampshire, & Rhode Island.   Equipment requirements are DJI Phantom 4 Pro, spare batteries, mobile charging capabilities and some experience in this field. Training will be provided. Fill out the inquiry at the link below if you are interested. Thank you.

http://www.sedronetech.com/drone-pilot-form.html

Here is a 2 day class which will provide an OSHA and NATE certification given by a very qualified individual, also includes drone flight time with his equipment. These 2 certifications plus posting videos of you flying simulated missions would go a long way in getting you jobs.

http://technicalrescuesystems.net/courses/drone-pilot-training-tower-structure-inspection/

And our own UAV Coach team produced this excellent overview for studying.

https://www.dronepilotgroundschool.com/tower-surveying/

Scour YouTube for many additional videos of what your flight skill set will need to be or become to get proficient with this skill set. However as Av8Chuck shared with us, the application of drones for this service has been long ago identified and the price erosion has already been applied to the onsite acquisition of the data requirements.

However if you can take the data set and provide post production services such as creating an accurate 3D point with an application such as Pix4D you might find a customer who would pay more for your time. But this is what companies like Talon Aerolytics offer to their large commercial customers. 

Edited by Drone Driver
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Guest AIRONE

I recently attended a 4 day Training in Georgia with SkyView HD with the promise of $100/ tower    5 towers a day.

It was by far the most unorganized, unprofessional, and unfriendly training I have ever been to in any discipline.  The phone "Interview" 

was full of misleading information and was not transparent at all. Meaning - they never tell ya that the pilot is 100% responsible for ALL

expenses; and that to get anywhere near the 5 towers a day you could be on the road for weeks at a time. Paying all your own expenses.

We were told on the 3rd day of training that we probably wouldn't make much money the 1st few weeks out; because a beginning pilot could never shoot enough towers in one day to cover there own gas, time on the road and Hotel and food expenses.  The whole thing was one big rip off. Skyviews Training was a good example of how Industry takes advantage of pilot enthusiasm thinking that pilots will somehow be happy working for nothing.

They were not upfront and honest about what was required of the pilot before the training. I felt like I was being handled by pro use car sales men from the 1st phone call.  I should have known better. I hope my experience can serve as a warning to others. Beware of Skyview HD.  Training with them was a very very unpleasant experience.

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Thanks for the heads up, @AIRONE, and sorry to hear about your experience.

Yes, there's a lot of snake oil being sold in this industry. This isn't the first time I've heard of a company offering false promises like this and taking advantage of folks. Appreciate you sharing your experiences with us.

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@airone is 100% accurate in his financial assessment of this opportunity EXCEPT that there is more than one drone pilot network supplier to Talon and not all are staffed equally. I just finished a training course for this exact  opportunity and it was the most professional group of experienced commercial drone pilots that I could have hoped for training me. The course was most beneficial in that just as @Av8Chuck stated above, the flying does require extreme attention to your orientation, winds aloft will try to push you into or away from your tower creating an oblong orbit which might affect a fixed focal length enough to invalidate your data quality......

But the fact of the matter is this - if you fly X number of towers you will by default become a much better pilot. And this will help you forever in your professional flying future. And the entire comm tower drone industry is becoming a race to the bottom for pay per flight rates. So it might behoove some of you to consider getting this training and experience under your belt because it will help you grow your expertise with all things concerned flying drones professionally. For example how many of you have flown 5 different missions in one day with only 3 sets of batteries, or only one fully charged controller, then woke up and did it again for a couple of weeks?

A result of this experience is a "sink or swim" result, you will either rise to the challenge and benefit from the experience of this hardwork or fail. Even if you do not become profitable cash wise, you will reap benefits from perfecting your self sufficient road kit needs and battery management skills. On top of that you will get paid to learn how to control your aircraft in very challenging conditions, all the while surviving in Summer heat conditions, flights between 9:00 am and late afternoon (light conditions).

So "caveat emptor" for sure! And in English, "watch what you ask for you just might get it".

Regards - Michael

 

 

Edited by Drone Driver

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Interesting: 

https://www.expouav.com/news/latest/cell-tower-scan-drone-harmony/

 

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