Why only using DJI for your flight logs is a bad idea.
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
It can seem challenging to keep track of all your drone flights, even if they only lasted a few minutes. But to professionals, every minute counts...
In order to record flight events and training for pilots, logbooks have long been considered an essential tool. The data is used for future certificates and ratings and to ensure compliance with regulators in order to meet the regulatory requirements.
Moreover, keeping flight logs can be useful for post-flight analysis of any events that occurred during the flight.
Lastly, as we mentioned before, they are also needed from a bookkeeping and compliance point of view, as aviation bodies and regulators (FAA, CAA, CASA, etc.) require them for issuing and renewing drone operative licenses.
What to track in Drone Flight Logs
When it comes to maintaining a record of drone flight logs, the following elements should be considered:
Flight Total Distance - Tracking distance traveled can help gauge maintenance needs and related expenses, which can reduce drone insurance costs.
Number of Images - In reviewing flight logs, the type and nature of data collected can give viewers clues to the mission's purpose. In the event that a client wants to replicate a particular drone flight in ideal weather conditions, for instance, this type of information (coupled with timestamps, location, and altitude) can help the pilot recall the exact angle and position at the time the photo was taken.
Aircraft name, type firmware details and accessory information - Maintaining, ensuring reliability, and assessing the level of risk (including the cost of drone insurance) can be made easier with this information. When applying for waivers, these details can also lead to decisions around depreciation.
Flight metrics and flight playback - Having access to this information is essential for improving sight operations, such as proving a drone operated inside the designated area or ensuring that a particular location was covered with data or imagery.
You may want to add items to the list above depending on the purpose and nature of your flight. Remember that coupled flight logs and proper flight planning can further enhance the success of your drone operation by incorporating equipment and airspace checks, authorizations, and other pre-flight logistics.
In the disconcerting but possible scenarios of safety mishaps or complaints, your flight logs will provide information about pilot performance, equipment maintenance, and safety practices. To validate or invalidate a complaint, you would be able to pinpoint the exact flight path of the drone. Additionally, you could verify that the pilot completed a pre-flight checklist and followed all company and government regulations.
The Challenge with Flight Logs generated by DJI
At present, most flight logs for DJI drones are generated by the drone and the drone’s SDK. These flight logs are encoded in the proprietary format of the drone.
Flight Logs encoded by DJI
As an example, should DJI suddenly decide to change their encoding format one day, all flight logging and decoding is done by third party services would cease to function.
At Hammer Missions, we believe that drone operators take on most of the operational risk for the drone industry, so they should have access to all of their flight logs 24x7 and transparently.
Because of this, the Hammer App generates drone flight logs in a CSV format that is easily readable by humans.
In order to generate our flight logs, we use the telemetry and state information received in real-time from the drone during flight. Giving the drone pilot the ability to access their flight logs this way reduces the risk of DJI or other drone manufacturers changing their flight log formats in the future.
Additionally, we've simplified the process of syncing and managing flight logs since they are saved directly on mobile devices and on Hammer Hub, our web platform.
We believe that drone pilots should also be empowered with the right tools so that they can take on calculated risks and pave the way for the development of this new and exciting industry.
Logging your drone flights is essential as it allows you to maintain a record of all your previously conducted flights. This, as we mentioned before, is important from a regulatory compliance perspective but also allows you to build more a culture of risk management and risk review in your operations.
If you haven't got a Hammer account as yet, and would like try Hammer Missions you can get started on our free trial.
To learn more about our enterprise solutions, including mission collaboration, data processing and AI solutions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you.
— The Hammer Team