Aerodyne – The Industrial Age of Drones and AI

Leading UAV Service Provider Aerodyne are proud to announce today that they have broken new ground on large-scale asset management and inspection projects around the world. Just over a year since they reported the completion of 30,000 inspections, the international drone-based solutions company has passed the 200,000 mark. This remarkable growth has been fueled by their development and extensive implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate processes, increase efficiency and improve the accuracy of their analytics and reporting capabilities.

Aerodyne flight crews (AeroRangers) logged in excess of 185,000 man hours and covered over 38,000km as they captured visual, thermal and multispectral data from power transmission and distribution lines, telecoms infrastructure, wind turbines and more. The staggering volume of data generated was then processed by a combination of dedicated engineers and advanced AI software, before being reported to clients through Vertikaliti – a cloud-based reporting platform developed and hosted by Aerodyne themselves. Every asset inspected is available to view online with detailed prescriptive reports and geo-referenced visual data. Clients have the ability to sort and compare assets, predict failure rates, generate work orders and optimise planned maintenance routines. In addition, Vertikaliti offers communication tools for greater collaboration between stakeholders and support for better decision-making.

“I am immensely proud of the hard work, dedication and willingness to innovate that our teams have demonstrated over the last year. We are now truly delivering solutions at an enterprise level – our relentless drive to achieve greater efficiencies through the use of AI has enabled us to scale up and meet the requirements of a growing number of industries.

The real challenge has been to develop AI processes which can consistently outperform the benchmarks already in place for comparable manual methods. Now we’ve gone beyond that point and we can genuinely claim to provide a solution which is faster, cheaper and better. We are able to offer our clients effective digitisation of their entire infrastructure, with full confidence in the accuracy and delivery of the data generated.”

Kamarul A. – CEO, Aerodyne Group

Aerodyne’s AI-driven approach has been proven to be positively disruptive, perhaps most notably in their A2i-thermal automated thermal imaging analysis solution. Previous manual approaches could involve five to ten minutes of effort per image to determine and interpret the relevant data. With Aerodyne flight teams capturing up to 8,000 thermal images every day this method was clearly unsustainable. A2i-thermal intelligently processes that amount of data in 30 minutes or less, with greater accuracy and without human intervention. A2i-thermal has demonstrated efficiency improvements of up to 624,000% – effectively completing years of human work in just a few minutes.

Thermal image analysis is not the only area to benefit from Aerodyne’s commitment to optimising performance and automating processes through the use of AI.

“As our company has rapidly expanded in scale and scope, we have identified a number of limitations in existing technology and practice. Through necessity, we have been compelled to look at new and innovative ways of improving our own processes and delivering better solutions for our clients. If an off-the-shelf product doesn’t exist, or isn’t cost effective we can’t afford to wait for the market to catch up – we have to develop and implement it ourselves.

Our teams have already developed several solutions which are being used on large-scale commercial projects. We have counting algorithms which are outperforming the best third-party software, with proven accuracy levels better than 99.5% within applications in surveillance, precision agriculture and livestock management. Our AI-assisted defect detection and automated severity classification software has reduced manpower requirements by up to 50%, without negative impacts on quality or accuracy.

This is just the beginning – there are new use cases for AI-enabled drone solutions emerging every day. We are confident that, by investing in the optimisation of our own processes, we will continue to be able to disrupt new and existing industries as they move towards full digitisation”

Rossi Jaafar – COO, Aerodyne Group

About Aerodyne

Aerodyne Group (www.aerodyne.co) is a world-leading provider of drone-based enterprise solutions and a pioneer in the use of AI as an enabling technology for large-scale data capture and analytics.

Boeing Teams with Robotic Skies to Provide Enhanced Commercial Unmanned Aircraft System Services

Boeing [NYSE: BA] and its subsidiaries Jeppesen and Aviall have joined with Robotic Skies, a leading commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS) support services provider, to develop and deliver industry-leading supply chain management and optimization, analytics, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services for the commercial and civil UAS markets.

“Teaming with Boeing will allow both companies to elevate the commercial UAS customer experience and deliver operations solutions that would be difficult to achieve individually,” said Brad Hayden, Robotic Skies CEO. “This agreement represents a foundational step for the advancement of commercial UAS operations that will meet the requirements of today and help shape the future of unmanned flight.”

Boeing and Robotic Skies will jointly pursue opportunities to best leverage their extensive combined experience and solutions in manned aviation programs and extend them into the UAS market, including providing services for commercially-focused regulatory compliance, ground support, training, MRO, parts distribution, field upgrades and vehicle retrofit capabilities.

“We continue our dedication to working with the top providers in the industry to increase our presence in the commercial UAS field, with the ultimate goal of helping customers operate more efficiently,” said William Ampofo, vice president, Business & General Aviation, Boeing Global Services. “Our relationship with Robotic Skies will bring together the best elements of both companies, as we shape our capabilities specifically to meet the unique operational requirements and challenges of commercial UAS flight.”

As their relationship continues to expand, the companies will provide unified operations services for both existing commercial UAS operators and for companies seeking to enter the UAS field for the first time.

Operating as one of Boeing’s three business units, Global Services is headquartered in the Dallas area. For more information, visit www.boeing.com/services.

Robotic Skies offers comprehensive turnkey field service programs designed to keep UAS flying safely, efficiently and affordably. Founded in 2014, Robotic Skies is a brokered network of over 150 certified repair stations across more than 30 countries, providing MRO and additional support services for commercial UAS. Each service center in the network possesses the aviation expertise and factory training to ensure the mission readiness of these aircraft. For more information about Robotic Skies, visit www.roboticskies.com.

Geomni forms Strategic Alliance with DJI-backed DroneBase

Geomni, a Verisk (Nasdaq: VRSK) business, and DroneBase, the world’s largest global drone operations company, today announced a strategic alliance that adds DroneBase’s Pilot Network and API to Geomni’s fleet of fixed-wing aircraft to expand property inspections globally.

“The insurance industry is beginning to tap into the power of drones, and aligning with Geomni should demonstrate the ROI-positive impact drones can have for insurers,” said Dan Burton, CEO and Founder of DroneBase. “Through the scale of DroneBase’s Pilot Network and API, our imagery will help speed insurance claims and more.”

Geomni customers are able to order a roof or property data packages that include the most up-to-date property condition via drone imagery. Upon ordering a Geomni UAV Inspection, DroneBase’s API is alerted, and a local pilot trained to capture the aerial imagery for insurance work is deployed. Once the pilot returns the imagery, Geomni converts the imagery — in as little as 48 hours — into useable property that gets sent to some of the most widely used insurance applications, such as Xactimate®, Xactware’s industry-leading estimating platform. Xactware is also a Verisk (Nasdaq: VRSK) business.

“DroneBase has demonstrated their excellence in capturing aerial UAV imagery and, paired with our current fleet of manned aircraft, is expected to add more options for insurers and other industries around the globe,” said Jeffrey C. Taylor, President of Geomni. “This is an important time in insurance with hurricane season underway. With this additional offering, we’re prepared to provide the best and quickest service possible to aid in recovery and quickly help communities.”

During last year’s hurricane season, both Geomni and DroneBase assisted in post-catastrophe recovery. Geomni provided aerial imagery and measurements for many of the top tier insurance carriers in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, while DroneBase completed hundreds of missions in those same areas after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Beyond insurance claims, this alliance can also be leveraged for other commercial applications such as parking lot imagery capture and mapping. The alliance between Geomni and DroneBase is available today through www.geomni.net.

About DroneBase

DroneBase is the largest global drone operations company, which provides businesses with stunning aerial information to make better, real-time decisions about their most critical assets from the world’s largest pilot network. Based in Los Angeles, the company is the trusted, go-to platform for aerial images and data for worldwide enterprise commercial clients across multiple industries such as residential and commercial real estate, insurance, telecommunications, construction, and media. DroneBase has completed over 100,000 commercial missions flown in over 70 countries and in all 50 states. The company was incubated by Y Combinator and has raised more than $17 million in funding from Union Square Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Pritzker Group, Accel Partners, SV Angel and DJI.

About Geomni

Geomni, a Verisk (Nasdaq:VRSK) business, is centered around an address- and location-based database of property-related analytics. Using the latest remote sensing and machine learning technologies, Geomni gathers, stores, processes, and delivers geographic and spatially referenced information relating to residential and commercial structures. Property professionals can use the data to help determine the scope of damage, discover hazards, assess risk, perform valuations, and much more. Our property analytics database supports a number of critical tools that protect people, property, and financial assets. Learn more at www.geomni.net.

FAA Approves DJI To Authorize Customer Flights In Controlled Airspace

DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, has been approved to offer Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) services for professional drone pilots. After a rigorous test and validation of DJI’s technology capabilities, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday announced its approval of DJI as a UAS Service Supplier, allowing DJI to offer its customers near-real-time authorization to fly in controlled airspace near airports.

“DJI has always led the industry in helping open America’s skies for productive small drone flights while keeping safety as the top priority, and offering LAANC capability to our customers is another example of our dedication to meeting their needs,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. “The LAANC system is a testament to the FAA’s global leadership in integrating drones into the airspace safely and efficiently, including in areas that are close to airports, using a technology solution that reflects the fast-paced development of the drone industry.”

The FAA established LAANC this year to help professional drone pilots operate within controlled airspace at approximately 500 airports where commercial drone flights are generally prohibited without authorization. LAANC designates locations within that airspace that can be used safely up to approved altitudes, and monitors temporary flight restrictions and other limits that could affect flights there. Pilots can use LAANC to review those limits, plan flights and file applications. LAANC processes those applications instantly and provides information about those flights to FAA Air Traffic, improving situational awareness and enhancing aviation safety.

“Before LAANC, using drones for productive work near many airports required detailed applications and up to months of waiting, even when the benefits were clear and safety was prioritized. Now, LAANC allows easy drone use in more than 2,000 square miles near airports, including many populated areas that can benefit tremendously from drone operations,” said Brandon Montellato, DJI Program Manager – Enterprise Solutions. “More than 100,000 Part 107-certified drone pilots will now be able to perform valuable work – from inspections and surveys to filming and photography – with near-instant approval.”

DJI’s approval as a UAS Service Supplier is just the latest example of how DJI collaborates with the FAA and other national aviation authorities around the world to enhance and improve safety while integrating drones into the airspace. Last year, DJI worked with the FAA to develop a mandatory DJI Knowledge Quiz that pilots must pass before taking their first flights with DJI drones, and has expanded the program to the United Kingdom and Australia as well. DJI also served on the FAA’s Remote Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee to provide expertise on security and safety solutions.

As a UAS Service Supplier, DJI now has the ability to allow enterprise customers and other professional users to use their DJI accounts to seamlessly apply for LAANC approvals while planning their flights. Further details on LAANC integration into DJI’s product ecosystem will be announced in due course.

FAA Approves L.A.A.N.C CERTIFIED USS for UK-based Altitude Angel

READING, UNITED KINGDOM – Altitude Angel, the global company defining Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), today proudly announces its approval by the Federal Aviation Authority (F.A.A.) as a UAS Service Supplier (U.S.S.) of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (L.A.A.N.C.).

This is great news for Altitude Angel’s customers since full L.A.A.N.C. capability can now be delivered via its Developer Platform. Until now, 3rd-parties wishing to use L.A.A.N.C. authorizations via a U.S.S. only had the options to “deep link” or “embed” the U.S.S. app within their own. Altitude Angel’s system offers the choice of interfaces to suit the purpose, or the ability to integrate via its API.

From Wednesday 5th December, following the completion of a beta phase with selected customers and partners, Altitude Angel will release full L.A.A.N.C. authorization capability via its Developer Platform and in just a few clicks via its updated Drone Safety Map application.

Neil Kidd, Altitude Angel’s CTO says “Our cloud platform also provides software developers and drone manufacturers with an abstraction over national approval systems, including L.A.A.N.C. It will save our customers from interfacing with lots of different national systems and drastically simplifies the process of understanding if any approvals are needed.”

Altitude Angel’s customers will also benefit from reduced time-to-market in multiple countries because their standard API streamlines the process of understanding if any approvals are required and then requesting them.

“Our clients are increasingly looking for a common operating procedure across their global organizations in order to simplify oversight and reduce training time,” says Paul Rigby, Co-founder and CEO of Consortiq LLC, creators of professional logbook solution CQNet and users of Altitude Angel’s developer platform. “Utilizing Altitude Angel’s standard global flight authorization API enables us to provide turnkey flight authorisation in any country connected to Altitude Angel, simplifying the process of offering authorizations directly to our clients.”

This L.A.A.N.C integration is an important new addition for Altitude Angel and it reaffirms its plan to scale and offer its services across the globe. The news comes as the company also announces the appointment of a new VP Sales, Toby Potter, who joins from PrecisionHawk, Inc., where he was the EMEA Sales Director.

Richard Parker, founder and CEO of Altitude Angel comments, “We’re delighted to welcome Toby aboard. He brings a wealth of industry and commercial experience to our growing company and will play a critical role in our global expansion plans.”

Toby Potter, VP Sales says, “To safely enable drone-based services and solutions to become a reality, there is a clear requirement for a platform providing high quality data and automated decision-making to enable integrated airspace management. Altitude Angel’s technology stands out as the leader in this area and I’m excited to join an already exceptional team.”

For further information, contact the Marketing Team at [email protected] or call +44 (0)1183913503 https://www.altitudeangel.com

Microdrones Goes Big with Release of mdLiDAR3000, as well as Two New mdMapper Systems

The high-powered MD4-3000 VTOL Quadrocopter from Microdrones at Griffiss Business Park on Thursday, August 3, 2018 in Rome, NY. (PHOTO BY NANCY L. FORD)

Las Vegas, Nevada- Announced today at the Commercial UAV Expo was the launch of the new mdLiDAR3000. It’s the newest LiDAR system from Microdrones that combines the heavy lifting power of the md4-3000 drone with a RIEGL LiDAR and a SONY camera for rapidly producing colourized point clouds.

The new system is unique because it takes advantage of the robust power of md4-3000, the largest Microdrones aircraft which can carry more, fly longer, and reach higher. High payload capacity makes it ideal for handling heavy LiDAR sensors, advanced mapping grade cameras, and multiple sensors and provides the robust platform for heavy duty LiDAR geomatics.

The entire integrated system enables the user to quickly acquire high density, accurate LiDAR data in the field and quickly turn it into a 3D colourized point cloud via popular software.

Microdrones President Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil explains how his team got to this point.

“Last year, we led the field with the development of mdSolutions like the mdMapper1000DG, the mdTector1000CH4 and our mdLiDAR1000. The new mdLiDAR3000 is the next step in our evolution. Geospatial pros always demand a faster, more effective way to capture elevation data with extreme accuracy. We are very pleased to be the company that can empower them with a powerful new tool to do just that.”

Dr. Mohamed Mostafa, Director of Microdrones mdSolutions is very excited about the product. “The mdLiDAR3000 has been in development for the past three years and this system is revolutionary. Our md4-3000 is the ideal platform to integrate with the RIEGL miniVUX-1UAV LiDAR. The results capable via our integrated system and easy workflow are very impressive and I will be revealing them at my presentations this week.”

Mike Hogan, Microdrones Sales Director anticipates a high demand for mdLiDAR3000. “We put a lot of effort, time and resources into designing this system and it’s very rewarding to see this come to fruition. This is a serious machine for serious geomatics professionals in the construction, land development, engineering and geomatics trades.”

In addition to this new flagship LiDAR product, the Microdrones team has added new systems to round out its mdMapper lineup: mdMapper1000PPK and mdMapper1000+.

As review, each of the now five mdMapper systems is outfitted to deliver turnkey aerial surveying, mapping, data collection, tailored to the needs of the customer, ranging from the mdMapper1000DG to the entry level, aerial mapping package in the mdMapper200.

Our top-line entry, mdMapper1000DG, uses direct georeferencing where customers are able to save time by using fewer or no ground control points for less sidelap and more productivity.

Hogan explains, “Although not all of our customers may need the power of direct georeferencing just yet, they all need highly accurate and precise data collection. That’s where the mdMapper1000PPK provides high accuracy with just 1-3 ground control points.” Furthermore, down the road, when a business is ready to expand to DG, the mdMapper1000PPK is easily and affordably upgradeable via the DG READY firmware update.

At an even lower price point comes the new mdMapper1000+. This system is ideal for those who do not need DG or PPK and are willing to install ground control points on site for their projects. Hogan explains, “Customers who frequently fly the same site repeatedly find this to be an adequate solution. Best of all the mdMapper1000+ is ready to expand with the user. It’s both PPK ready and DG ready with a practical and affordable firmware upgrade.”

The Microdrones team encourages attendees at the Commercial UAV Expo to visit the Microdrones booth to learn more, or check out our detailed web pages at https://www.microdrones.com/en/integrated-systems/

New Microdrones office in Siegen, Germany welcomes neighbours to open house event

Microdrones provided two fully-booked tours through the facility, with 2 groups each. Samuel Flick, Sales Manager and Agnes Jung-Diveky, Service & Administration guided the group through administration, development, production, service and flight ops departments. All guests were very interested in the company, its products and had many great questions. The tour ended with a demonstration of Microdrones systems, the md4-1000 and the md4-3000 with a live stream on a video display inside the building – the highlight of the tour.

The Development team had prepared exhibits includding a waypoint flight simulator with the md4-1000 as well as a 3D printer and other interesting exhibits. Production demonstrated sensor mounting and calibration. Guests enjoyed the passion and stories of employees in who enjoy and celebrate their work.

The guests also enjoyed a BBQ lunch, drinks and the atmosphere as well as the Tombola (raffle), where lucky winners received Microdrones gear. The Microdrones team was happy to build rapport with neighbors and business partners in Siegen and beyond. It was a great day and we look forward to continued work and friendship in this warm and welcoming community of Siegen!

French authorities choose Elistair’s Orion tethered drone as a persistent eye in the sky for security of the Ryder Cup 2018.

A tethered drone built by Elistair was used by the French authorities to ensure continuous aerial surveillance of one of the biggest international sports competitions, The Ryder Cup 2018 held in Paris from September 25 to September 30.

« This is not golf, this is the Ryder Cup ». Every two years, the Ryder Cup gathers 24 of the world’s top golfers from the United States and Europe. The competition is internationally renowned for its exciting level of Golf, as well as for its large media impact with over one billion television spectators in 200 countries. This year, the 42nd edition held in Paris at Le Golf National next to Versailles, delighted 300 000 live spectators over six days with extraordinary performances, incredible players and prestigious attendees.

Maximum security for a major event.

Tasked with securing 193 hectares, 50 000 visitors per day, international personalities such as John McEnroe, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods to mention just a few; the French authorities in charge of coordinating the security arrangements drew on a range of resources with 800 police officers, security forces, firemen, police dog teams and anti-drone technology deployed.

Carrying on from previous successful deployments at large events (World Endurance Motorbikechampionship and the Ferte Alais Airshow), Elistair’s Orion tethered drone was selected and used by the Paris Police Department and French National Police.

The deployment of the drone was carried out by the security branch of Delta Drone, a French drone service company with support from Elistair.

A safe and permanent Eye in the sky covering 193 hectares, with minimal logistical footprint. From Thursday to Sunday, the Orion drone flew continuously during daylight hours, 8 to 11 hours per day, watching over the 300 000 attendees of the Ryder Cup. The Orion was tethered to the ground which ensured continuous power supply, secure communications and physical safety of the drone. The live imagery from its day/night camera was broadcasted to the main control room, providing situational awareness to commanders for quick decision making. The control room had on-demand access to aerial views of the entrance, greens, stands and the perimeter. This allowed the security forces to prevent intrusions, detect incidents as well as monitor crowd movements.

As the number of rogue drone incidents increases, tethered drones provide a maximum level of safety and assurance for forces tasked with securing large events, while offering persistent coverage over a large area.

About Elistair:

The world-leading manufacturer of tethered drone systems, Elistair develops innovative and automated surveillance and telecommunications solutions. With systems deployed on five continents and over forty countries, Elistair has quickly become a leader in the tethered drone field for the military, emergency services and private security actors. Elistair’s references include the French Defence Agency, Thales, the US Army, the UK police, Total, Paris Airports, Securitas,

ENGIE, Vodafone. Further information can be found at www.elistair.com.

FAI World Drone Racing Championships: One month to go

There is just one month to go before the first FAI World Drone Racing Championships kicks-off in Shenzhen, China.

Some 115 of the world’s best drone-racing pilots from 32 nations will converge on the tech city of Shenzhen in southern China for four days of high-calibre racing, 1-4 November 2018.

Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded for first, second and third places in four classifications:

  • General Individual
  • Women
  • Juniors
  • National Teams

Qualification and Elimination rounds will play out over the long weekend before the high-tension Finals.

The venue is the futuristic-looking Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre.

In FAI Drone Racing up to six radio-controlled, multi-rotor model aircraft fight it out to be the fastest around a closed circuit. Pilots must navigate a series of gates and obstacles – whoever is fastest, wins. Races typically take three minutes.

Drones, which weigh less than 500g and are battery-powered, are equipped with an onboard video camera that transmits real-time video images to the headset worn by the pilots. The pilot sees what the drone sees.

Preparations are well underway in Shenzhen for the competition, which is the highest profile competition in the emerging world of drone racing.

The unique race track is set to wow pilots and spectators alike – lit up with LED lights at night it has been specially designed to test the skills of the very best drone pilots in the world.

It is not only honour and pride that is at stake either. A total prize pot of $220,000 is up for grabs, with the winner set to walk away with $24,000.

Alongside the competition, an aviation carnival will showcase drone-racing products, gaming activities and aviation.

Event management and the scoring system will be supplied by FAI Global Technical Partner Noosphere.

The event is hosted by the Bureau of Sports, Culture and Tourism of Municipality of Shenzhen and KAISA Culture Sports & Tourism Group. The Aero Sports Federation of China (ASFC) is the National Airsport Control in China.

About FAI drone racing

*In FAI drone racing, several (up to six) radio controlled multi-rotor model aircraft fight it out to be the fastest around a closed circuit.

*The drones used are multi-rotor craft that weigh no more than 1kg and are equipped with on-board video cameras that transmit real-time video images to the googles worn by the pilots, allowing him to control the tiny aircraft around the circuit.

*The circuit include gates and other obstacles around which pilots must navigate to reach the finish line in the fastest time.

*The events can take place inside or outside.

*Each race generally takes about three minutes.

*The winners of each race go on to face one another in successive races culminating in a final round that determines the overall champion.

FAI World Drone Racing Championships rules

*The FAI World Drone Racing Championships 2018 will involve three stages:

  • Qualification: to define the placing for the first round of the elimination stage.
  • Elimination: involving successive rounds up to semi-finals.
  • Final: to determine the Individual World Champion and Vice-Champion.

*National teams must consist of:

  • A team manager.
  • Between three and five competitors, with teams of five including at least one junior (age limit 18 years in the year 2018) and at least one female.
  • Helpers (one permitted for each competitor).

*Individual competitors may be also invited to participate by FAI. Aero Sports Federation of China (ASFC) got also three wild-cards for extra individual competitors from China.

* Each competitor and team manager of any national team must possess a valid FAI Sporting Licence.

*The event will be run by:

  • A contest director and a FAI contest director assistant.
  • A starter and two assistants.
  • A FAI Jury of three persons from different countries.
  • Drone racing judges for the races (one for each pilot flying in the race) from different countries.
  • Other local officials.

https://faidroneworld2018.aero/

Drone Insurance for Commercial Operations

When first starting out as a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operator, many business owners and pilots do not know where to begin to locate an insurance provider. Many “standard” insurance companies do not insure—and may specifically exclude from their policies—an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). To properly insure your commercial operations, start by contacting aviation-specific brokers, who quote, sell, and service aviation-specific insurance policies. You may be tempted to use a broker that you already have a relationship with, such as the one that handles your homeowner’s, auto, or business policy, but these types of brokers are generally not well versed on the complexities of aviation insurance. Furthermore, they are probably not going to be appointed with any aviation insurance companies. This is not an insult to non-aviation insurance brokers; it’s just that they specialize in coverage that is typically not applicable to aviation. Also, it is notoriously difficult for agents/brokers to get appointed with aviation-insurance companies. Even if you can find a non-aviation insurance broker that can obtain a quote from an aviation-specific insurance company, he or she will most likely have to contact an aviation-specific insurance broker to quote, sell, and service the policy, and this may contribute to mistakes, longer wait times (on changes, Certificates of Insurance, and answers to questions), and an overall inefficient insurance program. After you find a trustworthy broker, he or she will locate the best aviation insurance company based on your desired coverage, geographical area of operation, use of the UAS, and premium.

Types of Coverage Note: Coverage varies widely from company to company. This is a general outline of coverage.

Liability in aviation. The base policy is liability only, and this coverage must be purchased prior to adding any other type of coverage. Think about it like the foundation of the UAS insurance policy. This coverage will protect the business from property-damage and bodily-injury claims that may arise through the commercial operation of a UAS. Typically, liability limits start at $500,000 and can usually be negotiated to as high as is required by the business and its clients (limits as high as $10,000,000 per occurrence are not unheard of in UAS insurance). Each company, however, may or may not offer you certain limits based on its underwriting criteria. It is often argued that liability is the biggest concern of any business, especially one that operates aircraft.

Hull. Generally, the next coverage to consider after liability is “hull” coverage. Hull coverage’s purpose is protecting the business from the financial cost of any physical damage that may occur to its UAS. Typically, this coverage is quoted on an “agreed value” basis. The business owner, his or her broker, and the insurance company will agree upon a value and quote the UAS based on that valuation. It is important, however, to make sure that the value of the UAS is accurate. If a UAS was purchased in early 2015 for $1,500, its market value is most likely not the same at the beginning of 2017. Not keeping up with the declining value of your UAS will lead to overpaying for insurance and problems in the claims process. If your UAS is totaled, the insurance company will cut you a check for its insured value minus any applicable deductibles (deductibles on a UAS policy are usually between 5 and 10 percent of the insured value of the aircraft). Some companies, however, will adjust the value of the aircraft to reflect the current market price (for example, you cannot insure a DJI Phantom 3 for $6,000 and expect to get that amount in the event of a claim). This is another reason why it is important to have the stated value be in line with the current market price of your UAV.

Payload. Depending on the type of UAS that is operated, another option to consider is payload coverage. If a business owns multiple cameras or sensors that are designed to be carried by a UAS, payload coverage is very important. This coverage is similar to hull coverage except that it is specifically designed for payload equipment. This coverage is designed to protect the insured from any physical-damage losses to a scheduled payload. Again, a similar deductible of between 5 and 10 percent of the insured value of the equipment will be applied to payload items. For this type of coverage, you do not simply want to “lump” the value of the payload in with the hull coverage on the UAS; these items should be scheduled separately. Just as with hull coverage, it is important to accurately insure the value of the payload.

An example of how the scheduling should look on the quote/binder/policy is provided below:

Aircraft Schedule

2017 DJI Inspire 2—S/N 0DDX091356F9—$3,000 (insured value)

2017 DJI Zenmuse X5S—S/N 0DDP4987321—$1,899 (insured value)

2017 DJI Zenmuse X5R—S/N 0DDF2345697—$3,199 (insured value)

Ground equipment. Ground equipment such as dedicated ground stations, laptops, tablets, cases, radios, and other items associated with an insured aircraft can be added to insurance policies. Similar rates and deductibles to the hull and payload coverage should apply to the ground equipment. Non-Owned Coverage There are a few types of non-owned coverage that can be added to a UAS insurance policy. Non-owned coverage is crucial for companies that fly UAS or payloads that are not owned by the policyholder. The first is “non-owned UAS liability coverage.” This is designed for a business that operates UAVs that are not owned, or leased for a significant amount of time, by the insured business. Non-owned UAS liability coverage will protect the business from any claims of property damage or bodily injury that may arise from its use of a UAS you do not own (but not physical damage to the non-owned UAV itself). If non-owned UAS liability coverage is added to a policy, it typically follows the liability limit of the owned aircraft. If your business is ever asked to operate a UAS that is owned by someone else, non-owned liability coverage is something to consider. A second non-owned UAS coverage to consider is “non-owned UAS hull coverage.” This coverage, just like the “owned” hull coverage, is coverage for physical damage to the non-owned UAS operated by the named insured, who generally selects a limit for this coverage. So if you generally operate a 2017 DJI Inspire 2 equipped with a DJI Zenmuse X5S camera that you do not own, you should consider adding non-owned hull coverage in the amount of $4,899 ($3,000 for the Inspire 2 and $1,899 for the DJI Zenmuse X5S).

A third non-owned coverage to consider is nonowned payload coverage. This coverage works in a similar fashion to the “owned” payload and non-owned hull coverage described above. If you operate a 2016 Freefly Alta that you own and you commonly carry RED cinematic cameras owned by the production companies that hire you, non-owned payload coverage is a must (these cameras, equipped with certain lenses, can sometimes be valued at $100,000!). Likewise, if you perform aerial inspections using expensive sensors you don’t own, non-owned payload coverage is, again, crucial. Some insurance companies add this coverage on a case-by-case basis. In that situation, the insurance company will allow you to set a coverage limit and add a “blanket” endorsement to the policy.

Personal Injury

Personal-injury coverage is a relatively new offering in the UAS insurance world. This type of coverage is for libel, slander, violation of privacy, and copyright infringement. The most important portion of this coverage is the violation-of-privacy language. With the negative portrayal of UAS in the media and the population’s irrational fear of flying cameras, it is a good idea to consider this type of coverage. Looking Forward As we all know, the regulations, technology, and business needs of the commercial UAS industry are rapidly evolving. As the insurance providers modify their offerings to keep pace with these changes, keep an eye out for new types of UAV insurance coverage. Aviation insurance companies are not mind readers, so if you have a unique, out-of-the-ordinary use for your UAS, please inform your aviation-insurance broker. If acoverage does not exist for your desired use, your insurance carrier may be able to design, or specifically negotiate, a policy that will fit your needs.

BY JOE ERNSTER