Top Ten Tips: Using Drones in Arboriculture

by | Jan 14, 2016 | Featured Slider, Features

  1. If employing a company offering drone services they should be able to provide copies of their CAA Permit for Aerial Work commonly called a PFAW and aviation specific insurance. Without this they cannot legally operate. Membership of the industry trade association ARPAS-UK also demonstrates a higher level of professionalism.
  2. Drones come in many shapes and sizes and the terminology is wide ranging. RPAS, SUAS, UAV’s and Drones are all common terms. Drones are either fixed wing and look like conventional aircraft or are multi-rotor vertical and take off landing craft.  All are powered by lithium polymer battery cells with duration from 10 to 60 minutes.
  3. Drones are purely data collection devices, fixed wing drones are traditionally used for mapping but are limited in where they can operate. Multi-rotor drones can operate from a small take-off and landing area and can generally lift larger payloads.
  4. It is not all about the drone, it’s about the sensor. Standard camera (EO), thermal imagery, near infrared, hyper spectral, the world is your oyster but set clear goals on what you want to achieve.  Remember drones facilitate data collection, nothing more and isn’t always the best solution to a problem.
  5. Drones can be used for mapping, inspection, survey and PR and marketing. If you are using a drone company to capture footage for marketing purposes make sure they have a background in that area.  Not every drone company have a background in photography or videography or similarly survey or inspection, so check what you’re getting.
  6. For PR and Marketing the buzzword is 4k footage. That’s great, but what will you be using the footage for? If it is for an internet promo or DVD then standard 1080p HD footage will be cheaper to commission and easier to process.
  7. Drones have strict operational limits. The standard PFAW will not let an operator fly further than 500m visual line of sight from the pilot or higher than 400’ above ground level. Most importantly drones weighing less than 7kg can only get within 50 meters of people and property not under the pilots control which may be very limiting.  Some companies like ROAVR have special systems and permissions in place where these standard restrictions are lifted allowing a more complete service.
  8. Using drones within forestry or arboricultural settings can be exceedingly challenging. ROAVR are very experienced in this field.  Drones can be used for detailed upper crown inspections, look for evidence of protected species and inspect for fungal fruiting bodies. To assist in this a skilled pilot with a small airframe is required.  Within forestry they can be used for mapping, wind blow inspection aerial photography for marketing.
  9. For tree inspections, a two man operational crew is essential. A pilot is required and a separate camera operator.  Negotiating the crown of a tree is very challenging and requires the pilot’s full concentration.  The camera or sensor operator monitors the mission and guides the pilot whilst operating the sensor to gather the required data.  A high definition camera downlink feed is essential for accurate monitoring of the sensor.
  10. Finally if you are considering obtaining a drone for your own business please remember it’s not about the drone it’s about the sensor. Do not underestimate the regulations and legislation.  We can offer guidance through this minefield through our training partnership with UAV-Air.  If you are operating a drone commercially you must have a PFAW or face prosecution.  Remember #FlySmartFlySafe


ROAVR Unmanned Aviation Specialists is a data collection company with a strong background in arboriculture and forestry.  We are always available for a chat and can be contacted through our website at where you can see the variety of projects we undertake.

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