Risk Management for drone pilots

July 23, 2016 10:18 pm Published by

Final checklist before lift off!

As this exciting industry develops we find ourselves not only taking the best guidance from the manned world but adapting it to suit our own operations.

Checklists and acronyms form the foundations of safe operation through the application of solid airmanship.  In this post we will look at one such acronym and how our teams at ROAVR apply it on a daily basis.

When progressing through ground school and flight training drone pilots are taught the basis of good airmanship, how to design and implement checklists and how to conduct thorough risk assessments.  However, we have noticed that many graduates drop many of these key points and become complacent with experience from commercial operations leading to incidents stemming from very basic errors.

In the manned world we are taught that the day you stop learning in aviation is the last time you set the brakes at the end of your flying career.

So how can we minimise complacency in drone operations and maintain high standards of airmanship?  Well one way is the use of easily remembered acronyms forming the basis of standard operational procedures.

The first acronym we use in the field is PAVED this should be used at the pre-flight stage of your operation.


Personal minimums will involves such points as the IMSAFE checklist, sleep, fatigue, travel to the work site, weather, currency and competency.  You maybe current but are you competent?  When was the last time you flew that big octocopter in high winds in Atti for example?  The drone can manage but can you?


Is your drone airworthy?  Were you the last person to use it?  Have you checked the tech log?  Is the firmware up to date and have you tested it? Do you have sufficient batteries with you and charging facilities?  How about a back up aircraft?


What’s the weather like? Are you comfortable and experienced enough to fly in the forecast weather conditions? Have you considered all your options and left yourself an “out”? Are you comfortable with the type of flight paths available to you? Did you check NOTAMS? Are you at comfortable flying in this location? What about sources of RF interference?

External Pressure

Are you stressed or anxious? Is this a flight that will cause you to be stressed or anxious? Is there pressure to get the job done today? Is the client with you, do you have a Plan B? Are you being honest with yourself and others about your pilot abilities and limitations?  Remember the potential for loss of equipment and reputation.


Is your flight likely to be delayed due to client changes? How will this delay effect your flight?  We are regularly delayed on site when operating in the media sector with call times sometimes 10 hours late. This leads to fatigue, boredom and often battery management problems.

So PAVED is the first acronym we have introduced you to.  More will follow in the weeks to come.  Remember professionalism and good airmanship will grow your business. A Safe Pilot is always learning!

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This post was written by roavr