Drone Maintenance Tips
Many drone users wait until it is too late to think about drone maintenance. A UAS program should be treated like any aviation program, with a focus on procedures, training, currency/proficiency, and of course, platform maintenance. Drone maintenance should be accomplished in Pre-Flight, Post-Flight, monthly, and annual inspections.
As with any aviation operation, the first flight of the day should start with an inspection. For most drone operators, visually inspecting the drone airframe, motors and propellers before flight and checking the battery status will satisfy the daily inspection requirements.
Additionally, drone operators should be closely monitoring battery performance and temperature (of the battery) on every flight. On DJI drones, you will notice a flight time counter on the screen. If you notice a battery significantly under–performing expectations (for example: 30 minutes on a Mavic 2 Pro), you will likely want to have the battery tested and/or replaced. Additionally, if you notice battery swelling (during storage or after flight), safely dispose of the battery and replace it. The cost of a new battery is far cheaper than replacing a lost drone.
When the flight is complete, immediately start by checking the battery. Our teams use a Digital Infrared Thermometer Gun to check the temperature of batteries as they come out of the aircraft. If a battery is significantly hotter than average battery temps we’re seeing that day, we tag the hot battery for diagnostic testing when we get back to the shop. Additionally, look for battery swelling. Discontinue the use of any battery that is too hot or swelling.
Lastly, we check the aircraft body, camera(s) and propellers for signs of damage, cracks, etc. The aircraft is also cleaned with a horse-hair brush to ensure debris, contaminants and dust are removed before putting the aircraft back into the GPC case for transportation and/or storage. The pilot will log the flight info and note any issues.
Monthly maintenance inspections are accomplished to ensure the aircraft firmware is updated, aircraft flight logs are complete and to ensure that any unresolved issues are addressed. There is nothing worse than arriving on-site to fly the drone only to find out that DJI released a new firmware update that renders the aircraft grounded until the update is downloaded and installed.
Our annual aircraft inspections revolve around all the same actions done in the monthly inspections, but we add the need to purchase new batteries (we recommend replacing batteries that are used frequently and/or used in harsh environments annually), accessories (propellers, lens filters, etc.) and renew the warranties. Replacing a few batteries and updating a warranty are significantly cheaper than replacing a drone because of a failed battery.
Pro Tip: Set a calendar reminder each year to renew your drone warranty and evaluate batteries. We replace our batteries on a yearly cycle for our heavily used drones.
Contact us for more information or for flight and maintenance checklists.