Drone Inspection – Flying safely around a building

Aerial Drone Roof Inspection
Aerial Inspection

With 4 in 5 PfCO licenses not renewing*, operating a drone business is a little trickier than just buying a drone and offering your services. In fact, less than 5% of our time is spent airborne. So it’s important to ensure the 5% you do spend flying is as effective as possible. Over the next few weeks we will be exploring some tips to make this time as efficient as possible. This weeks topic explores Aerial inspections and “how to fly a drone safely around a building”. Aerial property inspections are one of the trickiest manoeuvres for a drone pilot and therefore a good place to start.

The right tools for the right job

Firstly It’s important to understand there are many drones on the market ranging from heavyweight industrial drones to fixed wing and lightweight drones. In our experience there is no one size fits all. But It’s important you assign the right drone for the right job. Especially if you are going to undertake Aerial inspections. Otherwise you may run into some challenges around flying legally and safely – but more about that on next weeks blog.

At Drone Scotland we have a fleet of drones we use for different purposes. On most assignments we use a combination of drones, ground cameras, telescopic poles and software to produce highly accurate inspections for our clients. For a roof inspection of a building, we also add a 15 metre telescopic pole to film difficult to reach locations.

Small lightweight drones can be much safer to use in heavily congested/residential areas. But they tend to be more difficult to control in windy locations with unexpected gusts. For us, flying a lightweight drone such as the Mavic Mini in an aerial inspection would be a last resort. Yes It’s small and lightweight however it has no sensors and can’t withstand the winds that the other heavier drones can manage. The risk of it flying straight into a building are therefore much higher. Similarly the thought of flying a heavyweight industrial drone above a property fills me with fear. Industrial drones, in our opinion should not be deployed in any congested areas and with much caution above any buildings.

Flying safely around a building

Operating drones near buildings are one of the trickiest manoeuvres you can undertake. Not only do you have to protect the people, in or around the building, from harm but you also have to ensure that you don’t recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger property. Both people and property and protected as per Clause 241 of the Air Navigation Order 2016. Yes, you guessed it, the remote pilot is always responsible for the flight and if something were to go wrong, you would need to justify your actions to the Police and potentially a court.

So, as well as taking into consideration all the above in relation to wind, you also need to ensure that the manner in which you fly the drone both protects people and the building you are flying around.

7 tips to fly your drone in an Aerial Property Inspection

  1. Always maintain a minimum of 50m from any structure that you don’t have explicit approval to fly near (further should laws require it). This also helps you adhere to privacy laws including GDPR.
  2. Bring a GCO (ground crew observer with you) and get them to be your eyes on the ground. They keep you and others, who may approach you, safe. They can also help keep eyes on the drone if you find that beneficial.
  3. Be very aware of any birds nesting on the roof. Seagulls are particularly aggressive – especially around nesting season which is typically between April and August.
  4. Walk the perimeter of the building so you have good situational awareness and know of all the exit/entrance doors.
  5. Plan emergency holding areas and landing zones and never let your battery deplete below 25%.
  6. Be aware of sources of interference including large metal structure and satellites/antennas. These can play havoc with your compass and telemetry downlink.
  7. Oh, and of course, know your airspace – certain areas including airports have FRZ’s (flight restriction zones), prohibited or restricted airspace around them. Such flights are deemed criminal.

Drone Scotland have been providing aerial data, video and imagery services to companies across Scotland since 2016. We have expertise in Aerial drone roof Inspections and utilise a variety of software and hardware options to produce highly accurate data for our clients.

Our clients include Construction, Surveyors, Architects, Property, Commercial and Media.

For more information on our services contact us at

Glasgow Drone Services – (0141) 302 4685

Edinburgh Drone Services – (0131) 203 3077

Dundee Drone Services – (01382) 785 693

Ayrshire Drone Services – (01292) 518 833

Next week we will be exploring tips on how to create smooth drone flights.

Aerial building inspection of Church
Church roof inspection

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