loader image
(858) 324-5312 [email protected]

The world of aviation is quickly experiencing yet another era in modern aviation. The use of commercial drones applications has been viewed as a beneficial factor in areas of agriculture, real estate photography, land surveying and much more. As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) legislation readies itself to help integrate commercial drones into the National Airspace System (NAS), safety remains a top priority in their process. In San Diego, California the use of drones has started to change the real estate market by allowing for virtual tours of properties like never before seen (Horn, 2014). So for the purpose of this assignment, this paper will show the construction of an Unmanned Aerial System’s (UAS) Operational Risk Management (ORM) assessment tool that will be used when taking a photograph of a home for real estate sale purposes in San Diego CA. According to Marshall. Barnhart. Hottman. Shappee & Most (2011), an effective UAS ORM should serve two important purposes. First, it must provide the UAS operator with a quick look at the operation before committing to the flight activity and decide upon a go/no-go decision. And secondly, it should serve as a safety and management tool of real-time information needed to continually monitor the overall safety of the operation.

The Inspire 1 aerial platform design by DJI will be the chosen platform used for this ORM evaluation tool. The Inspire 1 commercial drone platform enables aerial photography by means autonomously planed Global Positioning System (GPS) or operators can fly the system manually to unleash their full creativity. According to DJi  (2017), inspire 1 is the most widely used aerial photography platform by drone professionals to date. The Inspire 1 UAS ORM will focus in the areas of planning, staging, launching, flight, and the recovery stages of the UAS. To complete the ORM assessment tool, we will complete a Preliminary Hazard List (PHL) followed by Preliminary Hazard Assessment (PHA) and an Operational Hazard Review and Analysis (OHR&A).

Preliminary Hazard List (PHL)

In this stage, we (the UAS operator and the UAS observer) brainstorm ideas that are hazards related to the planning, staging, launching, and flight stages of the aerial photography operations. In those stages; we discussed operational factors such as weather, obstacles (such as trees, powerline, Uninvolved participants, No-fly zone, etc.), flight conditions (such as windy, fog rain), Line of sight clearance, and airspace.

Preliminary Hazard Assessment (PHA)

In this stage, we took the hazard factors listed on our Preliminary Hazard List (PHL) and identify how each factor in the planning, staging, launch, flight, and the recovery of the UAS can change in terms of probability and severity (low, moderate, serious, and high). This stage allows us with a means to mitigate the possible risks of the operation before we can even begin operations. For instance; if the enclosed operational area has high trees and power lines in the path of the operations, the operator would mark the severity a high (signifying a 10 from a scale of 1 to 10). The operator would follow this format in all stages (planning, staging, launch, flight, and recovery) as initially discussed.

Operational Hazard Review and Analysis (OHR&A)

In this final stage, we used all gathered information in both previous stages to construct the Operational Hazard Review and Analysis (OHR&A.)  It is used to identify and evaluate hazards throughout the entire operation (of aerial photography) in the stages of planning, staging, launching, and flight of the UAS operation. In this final and crucial stage of the ORM, the operator will account for all hazards and decides on the best possible course of action to mission outcome. For example, if the weather is good and there are no trees or powerline but it’s raining, the UAS operator will use the severity scale combined within all stages to make the safe and proper call towards the operation.


So in short, my ORM tool for aerial photography operation consists of risk assessment action items within the planning, staging, launching, and flight stages of the aerial photography operation. Pilots/Operators will evaluate risk by noting the appropriate risk levels in weather, obstacles (such as trees, powerline, No-fly zone, etc.), flight conditions (such as windy, fog, rain), line of sight clearance, and airspace. And based upon the gathered risk levels (low, moderate, serious, and high) the pilot would decide the safest way to proceed. This ORM will come in the form of a laminated flashcard with each risk element outlined so that the operator could mark on its appropriate levels. This ORM will be used during operation as a means to mitigate risk only. It should not be used as the sole means to decide a go or no go status.



DJi (2017). Inspire 1 Unleash Your Creativity. Retrieved from https://www.dji.com/inspire-1/aircraft#sub-feature

Horn, J. (2014, April). Drones airborne to sell San Diego homes. THE SAN DIEGO TRIBUNE57(12).Retrieved from: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/real-estate/sdut-drones-uav-realestate-unmanned-aerial-vehicles-2014apr11-story.html

Marshall, D. M., Barnhart, R. K., Hottman, S. B., Shappee, E., & Most, M. T. (Eds.). (2011). Introduction to unmanned aircraft systems. Retrieved from httpshttps://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.libproxy.db.erau.edu/lib/erau/reader.action?docID=1449438&ppg=143