Checklists for drone pilots – part two!

August 14, 2016 1:50 pm Published by

The second acronym we use in the field is BATS this should be used during the flight stage of your operation.


Check your battery duration frequently or delegate checking this to a competent spotter / airspace observer.  Modern control systems tend to foster an over reliance on ‘smart’ batteries.  The batteries on the likes of commercial off the shelf platforms such as the DJI Inspire and Phantom models take a lot of the pressure off the pilot but this can lead to complacency.  Do not blindly trust the smart functionality as winds aloft can dramatically effect your flight duration.  Can you get back to base? We advise checking battery levels just after take off and every 30-45 seconds once in flight.  Make sure your return leg is the down wind one!


Scanning airspace is harder than you think.  This task is best delegated to your spotter who can devote their time between battery management and airspace observation.  Even the the most experienced aviators have to force themselves to use a scanning pattern to move the eye across the sky efficiently.

  • Scanning is a continuous process used by the pilot or observer to cover all areas of the sky
  • Pilots and observers must develop an effective scanning technique which maximises one’s visual capabilities
  • Since the brain is already trained to process sight information that is presented from left to right, observers may find it easier to start scanning over the left shoulder and proceed to the right
  • When in VMC, it’s pilot’s responsibility to see and avoid, given that we cannot expect manned aircraft to see and avoid us it is ultimately YOUR responsibility to avoid manned aviation in uncontrolled airspace
  • The scan should be broken down into about 10° increments, spending about 1 second on each segment, you’ll soon see as PiC your concentrating on flying the drone and need to delegate this task!


Threats incorporates all potential threats to your flight.  The main ones being pedestrians and wildlife.  A constant scan around your operational area will keep your situational awareness high and current.  What will you do if pedestrians get to close?  Land?  Increase separation?  What about aggressive birds?  It happens, we know!  You need to be constantly considering and assessing your options.


Is your command and control signal robust and of sufficient strength?  A quick glance from time to time will alert you to potential issues.  If your signal drops too low the aircraft will return to home.  Can it do this without impacting obstructions?

So BATS is the second acronym we have introduced you to.  Next week we will look at WAG-BALS!  Remember professionalism and good airmanship will grow your business. 


A Safe Pilot is always learning!

Categorised in: , , , ,

This post was written by roavr