Drone and UAV Safety Checklist

Every pilot / operator and mission should be operated within the rules and regulations stipulated by the governing bodies applicable to you and your specific equipment.  All UAV’s / Drones / Transmitters / Receivers and Flight Controllers need to be well maintained for airworthiness at all times.

Every pilot flying for commercial purposes must obtain liability insurance.

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  • Hazards / Site Selection
    • Check for wires / cables
    • Animals
    • People / bystanders
    • Property in the vicinity
    • Site is away from nonessential participants
    • Ability to maintain adequate buffer zones between aircraft and personnel;
    • Minimize departures and landings over populated areas
    • Take into account local topography, ensuring a visible line of sight towards the UAV at all times. Ensure the telemetry connection is not obstructed.
    • Investigate potential alternative landing sites in case take-off site is obstructed.
  • Psychological consideration (are you well rested, rushed, “get there-itis”, are you being pressured by client)
  • Weather considerations
    • Temperature
    • Visibility
    • Precipitation
  • Wind Speed
    • Upper winds / at altitude
    • Rotor (lee side of large objects)
  • Notify any bystanders or nearby property owners of your intentions (permission)
  • Discuss flight plan with your co-pilot or spotter
  • If flying in controlled airspace, have you notified airspace authority
    • NOTAMs
    • Can you reach authorities
    • Do you need to maintain communication?
  • First Aid Kit stocked, readily accessible and visible to anyone in the area.

  • Walk-around
  • Crack in joints and structural members
  • Loose or damaged screws, ties, fasteners, straps
  • Loose or damaged wiring
  • Loose or damaged connections (solder, plugs, etc.)
  • Inspect prop mounts and screws and apply slight counter pressure on arms to check for loosened components
  • FPV , inspect / clean FPV (Camera) Lens and insure it is secured and connects are firmly attached
  • Camera settings are correct (still images, video, framerate)
  • Battery / Batteries are fully charged, properly seated and Secured
  • Fail-safe equipment functioning
    • RTH (return to home)
    • Recovery chute
    • Firmware Airport Proximity Detection Functioning
  • Props are smooth and free of damage / defect (check blade, surface and hub)
  • Prop adapters are tight / secure
  • Ensure voltage alarm is connected
  • Ensure arming / idle timeout is properly configured
  • Correct model is selected in transmitter (if applicable)
  • Check RC transmitter shows the right range and centering for all sticks
  • Perform range test

  • All actions and contingencies for the mission planned.
  • Contingency planning should include safe routes in the event of a system failure, degraded performance, or lost communication link, if such a failsafe exists.
  • Mission plans and flight plans should be shared with other operators in the vicinity.

  • Be courteous and polite
  • You are an ambassador and your actions will affect other pilots and the industry in general
  • Be professional / appear professional

  • Verifying all transmitter, on-board aircraft and camera batteries are fully charged; (confirm voltages)
  • Ensure no frequency conflicts with both video and transmitter / receiver
  • Checking all control surfaces for signs of damage, loose hinges, and overall condition; Looking over the wing/rotors to ensure they are in good structural condition and properly secured;
  • Check motor/engine and mounting attached to the airframe;
  • Study propellers / mounting hardware (tight) / rotor blades for chips and deformation;
  • Check the landing gear for damage and function
  • Test electrical connections, plugged in and secure
  • Ensure photo / video equipment mounting system is secure and operational.
  • Check location of GPS equipment controlling the autopilot.
  • Check the IMU movements in the ground control software.
  • UAV in stabilization mode, ensure control surfaces move towards the correct positions
  • UAV / Drone is in a level location safe for takeoff
  • FPV / Power up ground station
  • FPV / Power up Video receiver / goggles
  • If using Video recorder turn on camera system
  • Camera settings are correct (still images, video, framerate)
  • SD camera memory clear and inserted into the camera
  • Action / Start filming
  • All transmitter controls move freely in all directions
  • All transmitter trims in neutral position
  • All transmitter switches in correct position( typically away)
  • Transmitter throttle to zero
  • Radio transmitter on
  • Connect / power on battery to airframe
  • Ensure led indicators and audible tones are correct
  • Timer on (if applicable)
  • FPV, confirm video is in monitor / goggles
  • Scan for nearby cars / people / animals
  • Say “CLEAR!”
  • Arm flight controller
  • Increase throttle slightly listening for any abnormalities
  • Short 20-30 second hover at 3-5 feet (listen for vibrations / loose items)
  • Confirm Voltage levels are correct

  • Basics: If flying manually, always keep your fingers on the controller/transmitter.
  • Never let the UAV out of your sight even for a second.
  • Climb to a safe altitude away from potential hazards and to reduce noise pollution.
  • Keep aircraft at a safe operating distance from people, electric utility lines and buildings.
  • If the UAV must be flown over buildings or people, use a lightweight UAV and maintain a safe altitude for recovery and make every effort to minimize exposure.
  • Spotter: Use a spotter whenever possible and appropriate, especially when flying by First Person View (FPV).
  • Do not fly UAVs within distance defined by local laws of any private/commercial airport/helipad
  • Do not fly around a pre-existing UAV flying site without a frequency-management agreement.
  • Do not interfere with operations and traffic patterns at any airport
  • Landing: Regardless of whether of a manual or automated UAV landing, scan landing area for potential obstruction hazards.
  • Announce out loud “Preparing to Land”.
  • Carefully land the aircraft away from obstructions and people.

  • Shutting Down: Turn the power off to the aircraft and/or disconnect the batteries.
  • Turn off the transmitter.
  • Turn the power off to the photo equipment.
  • Visually check aircraft for signs of damage and/or excessive wear.
  • Remove the unused fuel if applicable. Secure the aircraft.
  • Check pictures: Verify that the UAV camera actually took the pictures.

Send Changes and suggestions to patrick.egan@air-vid.com
Thank you to Patrick Meier and Gene Robinson of UAViators.org, The Humanitarian UAV Network, for getting this checklist started!



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  4. If filming, make sure the director and actors (if any) are aware of the maximum flight time and the total number of flights that can be done (number of batteries availlable), (rehearse the scene(s) to make sure everything is going to work).

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  7. insurance not a requirement actually.

    1. I think for commercial it is?

    2. Geoff Parsons

      Clark, In the EU commercial drone flying must have insurance at a certain level of cover – by virtue of Regulation 785/2004.
      My guess is that a business client and many non-business clients would ask for sight of the policy or certificate. Suggest Part 107 needs checking on insurance..?

  8. Larry Burbidge

    My checklist also has the,1. KP index for the day of flying. 2. # of sats visible and sats locked.THese are on my preflight checklist.
    So far this is the best checklist I have seen Very nice job adding some of your points to my flight plan.Thank You.

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