Every commercial drone pilot worries about a drone accident or damage to their drone every time it takes to the air. From loss of signal to a collision, there is plenty that can go wrong. In the case of Insure4Drones policyholder Ashley Gale, it was a tree that got in the way.
Ashley is a fully licensed commercial drone surveyor. For surveying, he uses the DJI Inspire 1 – the very top of the line when it comes to film and photography drones. Equipped with the Zenmuse X3 camera, its 3-axis gimbal allows him to shoot 360-degree 4k resolution videos in 60fps, ideal for even the most taxing of surveying jobs.
Earlier this year, he was contacted by the Rector of the Minster Church of St. Andrews in Plymouth and asked to carry out an aerial survey of the church’s stonework – specifically the tower, flagpole and roof. Known as stone-face surveying, it is just one of many ways in which commercial drone work can offer cost-effective and safer alternatives to the norm. In this instance, hard-to-reach and possibly fragile church structures can be surveyed without drilling scaffolding into the historic stonework.
Ashley carried out his necessary pre-site checks, an on-site survey and risk assessment before launching the drone, accompanied by an assistant. One hazard that had been highlighted before the flight were the large oak trees surrounding the church, and the caution proved well-founded. While attempting to photograph the church’s west tower face, close to the treeline, the drone began to drift towards the foliage. Ashley immediately tried to correct the flight, while taking care not to overcompensate and slam the drone into the church’s fragile stonework. Unfortunately, one of drone’s propellers grazed the end of a small branch.
The propeller broke, instantly destabilising the drone. Unable to right itself, it flipped upside down and fell the 8 metres to the tarmac road below. Ashley’s assistant considered throwing his hands out to catch it, but pulled back at the last minute to avoid injury from the spinning rotors and broken propeller. The drone smashed into the ground, and the attached camera came loose, bouncing away across the tarmac.
As Ashley himself described it, “The drone was lying on its top dome. It was clear the mechanism was damaged. The landing arms were not rigid anymore, one spring foot was broken, the camera was lying beside the drone having disconnected on impact. There was a small crack on the camera body and one of the pins had snapped on the connection ribbons. Underneath, the vision position system was dented. The drone was still powered on but with multiple flashing red failure status warnings on the app.”
Image credit: DJI
After an unsuccessful test of the X3 camera on the handheld DJI Osmo he carried for ground shots, Andrew rung Insure4Drones. Their trained staff talked him through what had happened. His drone was independently assessed and determined that the cost of repairs would be more than the cost of replacement. Since Insure4Drones cover you on a like-for-like basis, Andrew soon had a brand new DJI Inspire V2 in his possession, and was back out filming a wedding the following week.
When asked about his experience, Andrew was full of praise for Insure4Drones. “I was extremely pleased with the service I received from Insure4Drones”, he effused.
“Their dedicated claims managers made it fast and easy to log the claim, and I was able to get the drone replaced quickly and get back to flying. I would recommend them to all commercial drone pilots.”
Want specialist drone insurance that keeps you flying? Get a lightning-quick online quote today with Insure4Drones, and see how affordable peace of mind can be!