Commercial Drone FAIL – Operator Mishaps From Around The World

While the vast majority of commercial drone operators succeed at running safe, successful UAV missions, mistakes and accidents do still sometimes occur. senseFly recently posted the following two questions on Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about these drone fails:

  • What’s the biggest fail you’ve seen a commercial operator make?
  • What mistakes do you see happening all the time?

The most interesting answers are highlighted below, ranging from unthinking newbies who failed to read the manual, to operators who are overly flexible with the truth.

What commercial drone fails have you seen? Tell us all about them in the comments section below this post.


Unlucky landings

“As an insurance broker, I have seen my share of incidents. One of the most unusual ones was when a UAV landed on a forestry road. The operator reached into his car to get something and an ATV came out of the bush and ran over the UAV!” – Calvin, Facebook

“Launching and landing in unknown areas without pre-flight planning and visualisation. I operated a drone once from the roof of a three-story building. I launched from the grass front yard area; upon returning, I chose to land in the back alley—big mistake! I misjudged the proximity to a small tree and crashed at about 10 feet elevation. It wasn’t a bad crash but I lost my pride, as well as a battery and my drone’s propellers.” – Samer, Facebook

“Don’t lock the GPS and then complain when the drone tries to land in the other corner of the country.” – David, Facebook

Failure to launch

“I have seen beginner pilots throw their eBees into a tree during take-off.” – Simon, Facebook

“When I was operating in Iraq, our crew leader couldn’t hand launch the aircraft from ground level so he set up a “launch area” from the top of a hill that was taller than the t-wall. His inability to perform put his whole team at risk.” – Shawn, Facebook

Risky business

“How about taking commercial real estate photos at 650 feet above ground level inside the donut of Washington Dulles (class B) airspace, because the pilot didn’t take the time to consult proper aeronautical charts and didn’t take FAA regulations seriously.” – Paul, LinkedIn

“The media flying over people and moving vehicles. Law enforcement doing the same thing with no COA or operating under Part 107 and thinking the rules don’t apply to them.” – David, Facebook

Making a meal of it

“As an authorised service centre, I’ve seen some things! One of my favourite was a customer’s drone getting eaten by a coyote upon landing.” – Donavin, Facebook

“We have seen crashes as a result of bird attacks.” – Calvin, Facebook

Bird_monitoring_drone_Green_Aero_Tech An eBee mapping drone (right) being kept under watch by a hawk (image: Green Aero Tech).

Redefining ‘professional’

“The biggest fail is educated amateurs who think they can make a few quid by using a company that thinks, because they can fly a drone, they understand surveying and geomatics.” – Andrew, Facebook

“My favourites are the claims on deliverables. I love my eBee but when I see drone service providers claiming .001′ accuracy, I can’t help but laugh!” – Tad, Facebook

“Lens cap left on! All jokes aside, the biggest fails are in the pricing structure—operators undercutting on price, just to find themselves working for free and eventually going belly up.” – Daniel, Facebook

What commercial drone fails have you seen or experienced?

Share your stories in the comments below.