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Top 10 Drone Apps We Recommend for Commercial Drone Pilots

piloting tips Jan 05, 2019

 

Welcome to this article on the Top 10 Drone Apps to use as a commercial drone pilot.

Over the years, we have tried a number of different drone-related applications and have narrowed down our list to a few trustworthy companies that will keep your aircraft, and operation safe in the field. We have developed this list below to provide you with the Top 10 Drone Apps that will set you apart from your competitor.

 

DJI Go 4

 

The DJI Go 4 App is a must-have when you are flying your DJI Drone in the National Airspace. If you are like the majority of pilots that fly their drones regularly, I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that it’s very hard to fly without this application. The DJI Go 4 App helps drone pilots with intelligent flight modes, basic/advanced camera settings, and firmware updates that will keep your drone flying smoothly. If you are like us, and love to share your Aerial Photography & Videography with friends, the SkyPixel app now allows pilots to post their content directly to social media.

 

What to Know Before You Fly

 

The following apps help Commercial & Recreational Drone Pilots understand the limitations associated with flying safely in the National Airspace.

 

AirMap

 

Airspace conditions are always changing, and as a commercial or recreational drone pilot it’s important to know the environment of your mission before you fly. The most common question we get asked, is “Can I Fly Here?”, and AirMap for Drones helps provide an answer to these uncertainties.

 

Compliance Brief: As you determine your flight plan, the AirMap for Drones App dynamically analyzes the airspace and notifies you on Rules & Regulations that you may be violating.

 

Adjust Your Flight Plan: If you find a violation in your intended flight plan, the AirMap for Drones App will allow you to go back and modify the flight path to ensure you do not break any rules throughout the mission.

 

Request Digital Authorization: Let’s say you receive a request from a client to fly a mission in Controlled Airspace. In the past, this meant going through various written application processes that would require weeks in advance when planning the mission. You can now request Digital Authorization to fly your mission safely and responsibly within a matter of seconds, just with the click of a button.

 

Submit Digital Notice: If you are operating in sensitive areas, the AirMap for Drones App will allow you to notify authorities in the region, allowing for full disclosure. There is a function within the app that provides you with the contact information of local Air Traffic Control for further communication, if necessary.

 

SkyWard.io

 

Skyward.io is a platform that allows businesses to connect people, processes and equipment when operating in the National Airspace. Skyward.io is very similar to AirMap and is now integrated with Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) to safely deploy the use of drones into the airspace. Skyward.io has partnered with various authorities to ensure drone pilots across the United States have access to fly in controlled airspace through near-real-time authorization below a certain altitude. Their platform will point out local restrictions, mark hazards and points of interest, and help plan flight missions according to the rules and regulations in that region. If you are working with a large crew, or more than one drone operator, this platform will allow full communication between teams to reduce the chance of problems before the occur. Lastly, if you need a last-minute pilot for an operation you can actually utilize the platform to connect you with local pilots in the area. Skyward.io syncs with DJI Go 4 & DroneDeploy which we will talk about later in this article.

 

SkyVector

 

SkyVector helps drone pilots understand online mapping and aeronautical charts. There are many best practices associated with flying safely, and the one that is most recommended by our team and the community is having a strong understanding of Sectional Aeronautical Charts. I know this may seem contradictory, since the last few apps automatically check the airspace you intend to fly in. However, if you are a Part 107 Licensed Pilot, you know the emphasis that the FAA had on Sectional Charts when taking the Remote Pilot Exam, so I highly suggest manually checking the airspace in your region when planning missions. If you are really looking to take your drone business to the next level, and separate yourself from the competition, it’s pertinent to have an understanding of the National Airspace and the responsibilities that come with being a Remote Pilot. SkyVector provides Airport Information, Notices To Airmen (NOTAMS) & Weather Information that you can check leading up to your proposed mission. These resources help pilots to determine safe operating areas.

 

I’ve included a quick refresher of the Sectional Aeronautical Chart Legend below for those of you who want to take a second look!

 



Hover

 

Hover is of the most recommended apps we hear about from our pilot community. It is a very simple platform that allows you to carry out similar functions to the apps above, but provides the most apparent user interface for No Fly Zones. Check permanent and temporary flight restrictions, as well as real-time weather that will solidify the safety of your drone and the mission. We all know those pilots who are bound to crash their drone or put a mission in danger, due to recklessness or improper flight planning techniques, so be sure to utilize these platforms to keep our airspace safe and reliable. If you are unsure of the best place to take-off from, this app will provide suggestions based on No-Fly Zones & Weather that you can use before every flight. With a simple flight log, you can now look back on mission data to improve your operation and track key metrics while onsite.

 

Professional Drone Mapping & Software Platforms

 

This section is for Commercial Drone Pilots looking to take their drone business to the next level. Are you an Aerial Photographer or Drone Enthusiast who wants to start collecting data for professionals in a variety of commercial industries? Use the tools below to get started making money flying drones today.

 

DroneDeploy

 

DroneDeploy allows pilots to fly and capture aerial imagery through an automated flight planning software. The software also provides users with the ability to upload and process data within the platform in a compatible format that you can be delivered to your clients.

 

Manage Flights: Manage your personal flights, or assign a mission to pilots on your team. Keep a record of all flights, and track them through an easy to use flight log.

 

Process Maps Quickly: With cloud-based imagery, this app will allow you to quickly upload, process and export your maps and models.

 

Analyze & Act: When you are working with a team, it’s important everyone is on the same page. This app allows users to share maps and collaborate on projects directly through the platform. We’ve used DroneDeploy in the past for sharing initial site scans with clients to get feedback on data we’ve collected, that way we can determine highlighted areas that need extra attention moving forward.

 

Manage Teams: DroneDeploy has a great user interface that is easy to use, and allows management operators to track their pilots and missions on a daily basis. The application has been used to scale operations as teams add more and more pilots to the workforce.

 

Pix4D

 

Pix4D is more of an advanced photogrammetry software for commercial pilots and industry professionals to work within the platform. If you are consistently creating detailed Orthomosaics, 3D Models, Point Clouds, Elevation Data with extreme accuracy, we would recommend adding Pix4D to your workflow. The ability to work with clients to analyze data onsite and produce valuable maps and models allows commercial drone pilots to be an asset to their operation. As drone data is integrated into a traditional workflow, it starts to be used as a tool to increase safety and reduce risk onsite while providing valuable information that can save your client money on a recurring basis.

 

PropellerAero

 

PropellerAero provides similar insights specifically focused towards the Construction, Mining & Aggregates Industries. We have worked with Propeller in the past on a variety of different Construction projects and their data continues to be useful for Project Managers, Civil Engineers and Investors throughout the extent of these long project timelines. They’ve also developed Ground Control Points which can be a great resource as you start to increase the accuracy of your deliverables for clients. Their online interface is easy to use, and is highly recommended with the other two applications on this list.

 

Best Apps for Drone Liability Insurance

 

If you are an Aerial Service Provider, you may have discovered that it’s very difficult to close contracts with companies in various industries without Drone Insurance.

 

After personally owning an Aerial Service Providing business for more than 5 years, I know the struggles that are associated with submitting proposals and trying to land projects without having proper drone liability insurance. It is extremely hard, if not almost impossible nowadays. 

Safety should always be a pilot’s number one concern, and flying a drone on site while employees are working can present a large potential safety hazard. You may be asking yourself “So, what’s the solution?”

 

I have found two companies to be the most efficient in catering to the average and the advanced drone pilot. Meet DroneInsurance.com & Verifly.

 

Verifly

 

Verifly delivers on-demand drone insurance to recreational and commercial pilots in minutes. 


  1. Verifly allows you to select the area that you will be flying and see real-time prices to acquire drone liability insurance.

 

  1. Once you have chosen your client’s site location, you simply purchase the insurance policy with prices starting as small as $10/hr.

 

  1. Through the in-app purchase, a notification will pop up to let you know that you have successfully approved, with on the spot insurance sent directly to your email.

Keep in mind, you are able to purchase up to $10MM of drone liability insurance on the spot, which from my experience is more than enough for projects in the Construction, Agriculture and Commercial Real Estate Industry.

 

DroneInsurance.com

 

Droneinsurance.com allows drone operators control of their insurance online and on-demand giving pilots the power to flight liability coverage for as little as a day and as long as a year. 


  1. Base Coverage: For a low monthly amount, Base Coverage provides coverages to protect your business from risks not directly related to flights. It consists of 3rd party liability and property damage on the ground, premises liability, and Personal and Advertising injury.

 

  1. On-Demand Flight Liability Coverage: DroneInsurance.com offers $1 million to $25 million of Flight Liability Coverage (in $1 million increments), with the ability to add coverage the same day on-demand.

 

  1. Optional Physical Damage Protection: Physical Damage protection covers repair or replacement of the drone if stolen or damaged when not in flight, and is extended to protect your drone in the air when Flight Liability Coverage is added.

 

Regardless of which platform you use, drone liability insurance is a vital aspect of drone safety and should always be a priority when conducting aerial flights.


Read more about drone liability insurance: Drone Insurance: What To Know For Commercial Drone Operations

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