Drones have become ubiquitous in recent years, with their ability to fly and perform various tasks in different environments. One of the exciting and visually stunning applications of drones is the light show. In this article we explain the logistics of flying a drone light show.
What is a Drone Light Show?
A drone light show is an aerial display of synchronised drones that create patterns, shapes, and even animations using LED lights. Electric Airshows lead the way and our shows have become popular at events such as music festivals, sporting events, and theme parks.
Flying a Drone Light Show Is Complex
The logistics of flying a drone light show are complex and require careful planning to ensure a safe and successful event.
Electric Airshows first step in planning a light show is to assess the location of the event. This includes factors such as the size of the area, the presence of obstacles, and the proximity to airports or other aviation and wildlife sensitive areas.
Electric Airshows are required to notify the relevant authorities, such as the Civil Aviation Authority in the United Kingdom and we work to ensure that all required stakeholders are notified of the events intention weeks prior to the actual flight. We often have to seek permissions from multiple stakeholders as well as notifying relevant authorities and organisations, such that our drone swarm does not fly unannounced.
Designing the Drone Light Show
The next step is to design the light show itself. This involves determining the number of drones required, the colours and patterns of the lights, and the sequence of movements.
The drones must be programmed to follow a precise flight path and maintain a safe distance from each other to avoid collisions. Each Electric Airshows drone is equipped with a high-fidelity GPS tracker, which allows the Electric Airshows flight controller to monitor each drones location in real-time.
Assembling the Drones
Once the design is complete, the drones must be assembled and tested. This includes checking the batteries, motors, and lights, and ensuring that the drones are properly calibrated and balanced.
Electric Airshows use pioneering QR code stock inventory systems allowing us to know exactly which drones flew with which battery onboard for every flight. This is part of our commitment to safety as we work towards ISO9001 and ISO27001 certifications.
The drones must also be tested in the actual location of the event to ensure that the flight path and timing are accurate and can be executed safely. Electric Airshows do this by flying an outer permitter flight prior to any rehearsals such that we can test the flight path and to ensure the drones are staying within out Geofence – the software that prevents drones straying from the performance area.
The Control Centre
On the day of the event, the drones must be transported to the location and set up. This includes deploying a ground station, which is Electric Airshows control centre that communicates with the drones and monitors their status. The control centre is located in a secure area and has a clear line of sight to the drones, ensuring and maintaining reliable communications.
The deployment of the drones used to be a labour intensive operation, however Electric Airshows have pioneered the use of fly-from-box drones which allow us to speed up the deployment time as well as operate from sites 80% smaller than our competitors.
Before the light show begins, a pre-flight checklist must be completed. For Electric Airshows this starts with a full visual inspection, which is akin to a full size aircraft’s ‘A’ check. The pilots from Electric Airshows verify that all the drones are functioning properly and are talking to the control centre, before we commence the environmental checks. These ensure that the airspace is clear, and that all necessary authorisations have been obtained and finalised.
We utilise an ADS-B system that checks for other aircraft in the vicinity and we monitor the relevant local air-band frequencies to ensure that there are no aircraft approaching the flight area. Electric Airshows are unique insofar that at least one of our pilots on each show holds a full pilot’s licence and associated Flight Radio Telephony operators licence so can talk to Air Traffic Control or other aircraft in the vicinity.
The drones are then launched and flown according to the pre-determined flight path and sequence of movements. The chief pilot monitors the drones and can take control of any drone in the swarm at any time, making adjustments to the flight plan if necessary.
After the show has completed, the drones are safely landed and recovered. This includes visually inspecting the drones as a form of ‘transit check’ before removing and recharging the batteries. The data collected during the flight, such as the flight path and battery usage, is analysed to improve future performances.
Working with Us
The logistics of flying a drone light show require careful planning and execution. From obtaining necessary authorisations to designing the show itself, every aspect must be carefully considered to ensure a safe and successful event.
Electric Airshows have pioneered the way forward with regards battery and inventory management systems and have developed the latest “fly-from-box” technologies reducing the footprint for flight required by 80% and reducing the deployment time by up to 90%.
While the process can be complex and time-consuming, the results Electric Airshows achieve are visually stunning displays that leave a lasting impression on audiences.
Interested in creating a visually stunning and memorable event with a drone light show? Contact Electric Airshows today to start planning your show!
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