Maintenance for your drone is just as important as maintenance for anything else of value. It’s required for our cars, homes, and really anything that is important to us. When we take proper care of things, we prevent ourselves from having to deal with more serious problems.
Maintenance may sometimes feel like an unnecessary hassle, but your future self––and wallet––will thank you for maintaining your drone. To extend the life of your aircraft, you should take time every day to do some maintenance. Some tasks are required less often.
Taking proper care of a drone can seem daunting, so we wrote every task down and divided it into daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly tasks. You can thank us later!
Drones require daily maintenance. Maintenance can be annoying, but these steps don’t take much time (especially when you consider the time and money you might save yourself by preventing a bigger problem). Here are five things you can do each day to extend the life of your aircraft.
- Clean your airframe. This step is only necessary on the days you fly.
- Check your drone for any loose screws.
- Inspect the propellers for any damage.
- Do a quick scan of your drone’s motors and ensure everything looks good.
- Make sure your drone’s camera is clean and functioning. You don’t want to miss out on great shots due to a dirty or broken camera!
Aircraft owners don’t always see cracks or other damage immediately after they occur. Sometimes owners don’t notice damage in their quick daily checks. But the earlier you notice that something isn’t right, the less likely you are to make matters worse by continuing to fly.
Here at UVT, we typically switch out props after they are used for a certain number of hours. Even the quote-unquote small problems can cause catastrophic malfunctions. A hairline fracture in your drone’s propeller can actually cause it to explode at high speeds. (We weren’t being dramatic when we said “small” problems aren’t really that small).
We suggest you take time each week to really inspect your drone and make sure its firmware is all up to date. Weekly checks help make sure nothing gets past you!
Batteries are an extremely important component of any drone. We suggest that you do monthly battery checks to prevent major issues.
Each month, remember to check your batteries for any bulges or leaks. Batteries can be forgotten about until they stop working, and sometimes then it is too late. You’ll want to keep an eye on them because drones with damaged batteries are not safe to fly!
During your monthly battery check, you’ll also need to do a quick switch of your batteries. Here is some science to back us up: batteries work because of a limited number of charge cycles. So after a while, you have to switch to a new battery to ensure there aren’t any issues.
You should also do a more detailed, up-close inspection of your motors. Especially for those of you that fly in dirty or dusty environments frequently, those particles can build up and if nothing else, cause your propulsion system to be less efficient. Worst-case, it could cause premature failure of the motor(s).
The hardware you fly is just one component of the entire system. Every year, we like to go through all of our SOPs and other operating documentation to ensure everything is current and still applicable to the operation. This can include Part 107 certificates, airspace authorizations, waivers, etc.
Taking time to perform these tasks is the best thing you can do to extend the life of your aircraft. You may get tired of these tasks and start to be convinced that maintenance isn’t really necessary, but you might end calling UVT to buy a new drone (and we might say we told you so). But really, we hope this is helpful and that you are able to optimize your aircraft’s lifetime by keeping up with maintenance for it!