The majority of the total distance covered in 2023 was for "commercial" work, something like 96%. The main areas of work I undertake are in the construction and agricultural sectors and include construction updates (mainly video), general imagery and photogrammetry survey work. I started off the year with I started off with 6 drones which included;

  • Phantom 4 Pro x 2
  • Mavic 2 Pro
  • Mavic 2 Zoom
  • Mavic Mini 2
  • AgEagle eBee X

However at the end of the year the drones I now use for commercial work have changed quite a bit and I now have;

  • Mavic 3 Pro
  • Mavic 3 Multispectral RTK
  • Mavic Mini 3 Pro
  • AgEagle eBee X

I still have the Mavic Mini 2 which I keep as a back up. I have sold the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom and am looking to sell the Phantom 2 Pro's. Whilst I am often an early adopter when it comes to technology with drones I do tend to wait until they have been out for some time and all the drones I have purchased have been trouble free. The downside of delaying purchasers is not making use of the latest technology, I have been very impressed with the Mavic 3 Series.

I completed 405 jobs during the year with a total of 518 flights. For the construction updates the majority would by one flight per job but there will be photogrammetry jobs where I carry out multiple flights, the most was 10.

Of the 1,978km almost half the distance was covered by the eBee clearly reflected its primary use for survey work. The longest single flight was 25km.

The one bit of data which did surprise me was the maximum temperature of one of the batteries. During a Mavic 2 Pro flight the battery peaked at 50.2C. It was an exception as the max for most other flights was c40c and the stated max temperature for the Intelligent Series batteries is quoted at 40c. I didn't get any warnings on the controller.

Except when I was on holiday I did manage to fly most weeks during the year but 2023 was more challenging with the weather. We seemed to have more windy days and plenty of rain. I do find by using a combination of weather apps that I know if I can complete a job and only had a handful where the drones stayed in their cases. That was usually down to fog/mist.

I am often asked about planning flights and for the one off projects there is the usual desktop work to undertake before getting to site. You also spend more time when getting to site undertaking the Site Assessments and familiarising yourself with the task in hand. I do though have a number of regular clients where I am visiting their sites regularly, usually monthly. These are much easier to fly as I know the sites well and I have established a good workflow to get these jobs done quickly. For some sites I may only be there for 15/20 minutes. That means during the Summer Months with the longer days I can complete upto 10 construction sites in day noting that will include a lot of driving.

I am hoping to carry out a similar number of jobs during 2024 to include additional agricultural work with the Mavic 3 Multispectral. The year has aready started well with a commission confirmed a few days before Christmas for 25 locations to include a combination of photogrammetry surveys and general imagery.

In between day to day drone work I will continue to respond and comment to the multiple CAA Consultations which keep on coming through thick and fast. It is certainly very concerning that the total number of "Operatinal Authorisations" has fallen from a peak of c8,000 to c3,500. I believe this reflects the complexity of the regulations and many commercial operators are now only using sub 250g drones. As a regulator the CAA must ensure that the move to additional legisaltion is underpinned by data and evidence demonstrating there are issues that need to be addressed.

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