Drone Pilot Training
Drones were first brought into the public eye around 2013 when Jeff Bezos and Amazon floated the idea of using drones to deliver packages quickly to your doorstep. Soon after, drones came into the mainstream market and there was a public fascination and intrigue surrounding drones, and future capabilities of what a flying robot can do. Drone technology is still advancing rapidly, and people continue to find new applications for drones every day, whether it be search and rescue, geographic mapping, disaster management, etc.
What are Drones?
A drone, aka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), can be thought of as a “flying robot”, as nobody is in the cockpit interacting with the controls. Instead, drones are usually controlled by a remote pilot with a remote controller. They can also be fully autonomous.
A few years ago at our annual knowledge sharing event, The 2018 Innovation Rodeo, we invited Andrew Dennison, COO of Uplift Data Partners to give a presentation on drones’ impact on the built world. Andrew explained how you can take a large building (a warehouse for example), and use a drone with a thermal camera to fly over the building to look for hot or cold spots. This allows you to identify if there are any leaks in the building envelope, and then measures can be taken to seal that part of the building envelope per proper design and optimal energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, uncontrolled air leakage can account for as much as 30 to 50 percent of a building’s heating and cooling costs . Not having a building envelope sealed tightly can significantly increase your energy bill every month and it will also cause your building to use more energy than it needs to. Imagine trying to heat your house up on a cold day with your furnace. Now, think about trying to do that with the doors and windows open to the outside. Your furnace is going to have to work much harder, use more energy, and to top it off, your monthly gas/electric bill is going to be higher too.
Now, you could take this single family home analogy and scale it up to, say, a 1.5 million square foot warehouse. Picture a huge warehouse in the Midwest on a cold January day. Let’s say it has 20 makeup air units blowing conditioned (heated) air into the space. Having gaps in the building enclosure can cause heat to leak out into the atmosphere, and your makeup air units are all going to have to work a little harder to keep the space warm enough. With a drone’s thermal imaging camera, you can scan an entire warehouse in a very efficient way, and prevent a situation like this by identifying where a building is not tightly sealed.
At Cyclone Energy Group, we are always looking for cool new cutting edge technology that will improve our existing services or allow us to expand to offer a completely new service. A perfect example of this is when we recently invested in a DJI MATRICE 300 RTK drone, coupled with a DJI Zenmuse XT2 camera.
This drone and camera, which we named cyFLY, are designed for commercial applications and there is some very powerful technology on board. Our goal is to use the cyFLY drone for building thermal imaging, solar panel inspections, and construction tracking, among many other things. We are excited to use the capabilities of the drone and incorporate it into what we are passionate about – all things construction and energy savings!
As a member of the commissioning team at Cyclone, I had the opportunity to attend a multi-day drone training session, and shortly after, I passed my exam and obtained my drone pilots license. We began with a two day in-person drone training with everyone on the commissioning team, along with a few other team members who were interested in flying. The training gave everyone hands-on experience in packing/unpacking the drone, pre-flight checklists, Li-Po battery storage, and of course the best part – practice flying!
If you are flying a drone commercially and you aren’t licensed, you will need to be accompanied by someone with a drone license to legally fly. To become licensed, you will need to understand FAA’s Part 107 regulations, and then pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test. After that, TSA will run a background check and you will receive your Remote Pilot Certificate card.
The past couple months have been a very fun and rewarding experience on the path to becoming a licensed commercial drone pilot. Everyone at Cyclone is excited to dive into the commercial drone world and explore the endless possibilities that engineers and drones can achieve!
 Karamagi, Monica. “How to Create and Maximize a Tight Building Envelope.” Walls Ceilings RSS, Walls & Ceilings, 17 Feb. 2016, www.wconline.com/articles/87920-how-to-create-and-maximize-a-tight-building-envelope.
 “DJI ZENMUSE XT2 19mm 640×512.” Skyline Visuals, 30 Mar. 2021, skylinevisuals.co.za/product/dji-zenmuse-xt2-640×512-9hz-thermal-series/.