There are many reasons why people would want to operate drones for night flying, from professional photographers to providing security; flying drones at night is a requirement for many professionals. However, flying a drone at night requires extra caution and preparation to ensure safety and success. In this blog post, we will explore why people fly drones at night, the legal considerations, the equipment required, safety precautions, and drones that are suitable for for night flying.
Can You Fly Drones At Night?
Yes, you can fly drones at night, but before you do, it is essential to be aware of the legal considerations. In the USA, the FAA has specific rules and regulations for flying drones, which also apply to night flights. Some of these regulations include flying under 400 feet, maintaining a line of sight with the drone, not flying in restricted airspace and avoiding flying over people or property.
To fly drones for commercial purposes, you must obtain the Part 107 certificate, which now covers night-time drone operations. There is no requirement for a waiver as was previously required.
For recreational drone pilots, you must pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test and register your drone if it weighs over 250 grams. Other than that, there is no requirement for any additional certificate for night-time flying.
For night-time flying, drones must have an anti-collision light attached so the operator can always have visual contact with the drone. This applies to both recreational and commercial drone pilots.
It is also vital to be aware of state and local laws regarding drone flying. Some states and municipalities have their own regulations, so it is important to understand them before flying at night.
Best Drones For Night Flying
What kind of drone is suitable for night flying? That all depends on what you want to do with the drone.
For example, if it’s for photography/videography, a drone with a large image sensor, low aperture and a high ISO range would be ideal. This will allow photographers to capture more light, reduce noise and keep as much image detail as possible. Some good drones for night photography include the Mavic 3 Cine, Mavic 2 Pro, Autel Evo 2 Pro and the Air 2S.
For surveillance and security, the best option is a drone-in-a-box system (DIB), especially for high-value assets like critical infrastructure.
A DIB system is a fully autonomous drone housed within a box or some other type of enclosure. The box is typically equipped with a charging system, weatherproof housing, and various sensors that enable the drone to operate without human intervention.
DIB systems are used for security and surveillance purposes. They can be stationed at fixed locations and deployed on demand to monitor an area, inspect infrastructure, or respond to emergencies. With the ability to operate autonomously, DIB systems can reduce the need for human intervention, increase operational efficiency, and improve safety in various applications.
Some popular DIB systems include Percepto Air Max and Air Mobile, Easy Aerial’s Smart Aerial Monitoring System (SAMS) and DJI Dock with the M30/30T drone.
A drone with a multi-sensor payload that includes a high-resolution RGB and thermal imaging camera is ideal for night-time drone operations.
There are plenty of options; the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is popular choice, there are also the more expensive DJI M30 and M30T drones, both of which have night vision sensors, and the DJI Matrice 300 RTK is also a good choice for multiple industrial applications. Both the Matrice 300 RTK and M30 drones have been developed to be operated in harsh weather conditions, and they are waterproof, which makes them highly versatile drones.
When flying drones at night, it is important to have the right equipment. One crucial piece of equipment is an anti-collision light/beacon., which can be attached to the drone to improve visibility. This will allow drone operators to maintain visual contact with the drone, which is required by law.
Who Needs To Fly Drones At Night?
There are several groups of people who may want to fly drones at night. They include photographers, filmmakers, the Police, emergency services, private security services etc.
Filmmakers & Photographers
Filmmakers and photographers often use drones to capture stunning visuals that traditional cameras cannot get. At night, the lights and unique perspectives can create stunning imagery perfect for capturing a cityscape or landscape. For example, capturing the skyline of a city at night can result in a beautiful image with the lights of the buildings reflecting on the water below. Events such as concerts, fireworks displays, and festivals can also be captured with drones at night, creating a unique and visually stunning perspective.
Professionals who need to inspect or survey areas at night can use drones safely and efficiently. For example, inspecting power lines, pipelines, or construction sites often requires working at height, which can be dangerous for humans. Drones can be equipped with high-quality cameras and sensors to provide a detailed view of the area, allowing the inspector or surveyor to identify any potential problems without putting themselves at risk.
Search & Rescue Ops
Drones equipped with thermal cameras can be beneficial for search and rescue missions at night. Thermal cameras can detect heat signatures, which can help search and rescue teams locate people or animals in distress. For example, if someone is lost in a remote area at night, a drone with a thermal camera can detect their body heat and guide the rescue team to their location.
Flying drones at night can be a thrilling and exciting hobby for enthusiasts who enjoy the challenge of navigating in low-light conditions and capturing unique footage. Hobbyists may use their drones to explore their local area at night, capture stunning images of cityscapes, or enjoy the thrill of flying in the dark. However, it’s important to remember that flying drones at night comes with additional risks and challenges, so hobbyists must take extra care to ensure they are complying with regulations and keeping themselves and others safe.
Security & Surveillance
Drones equipped with cameras can be helpful for security and surveillance purposes at night. For example, drones can monitor large areas such as parks, construction sites, and public events. They can also observe wildlife and livestock at night and detect intruders or potential security threats. Drones can fly over a wider area, providing a more detailed view of the monitored area. They can also be used to respond quickly to potential security breaches, as they can be deployed rapidly and can capture live footage of the area in question.
In summary, flying drones at night might be necessary for various purposes. Whether you’re looking to capture stunning visuals or perform a task safely and efficiently, drones can provide a unique perspective and solution to your needs. However, it’s essential to make sure you follow all legal requirements and safety precautions to ensure a successful and safe flight.
There are plenty of reasons why people require drones for night flying, in this article, we have only discussed a few of those reasons and also mentioned a small number of drones that are suitable for night time operations.