Helicopters vs Drones

As I planned my itinerary for Iceland trip, part of my consideration includes the possibility of aerial photography. The application of aerial photography is that such images can be used for films, websites, presentations and marketing purposes for an organisation. It can also be used in construction at strategic intervals from initial planning through to completion, record its building progress and assist in management reporting and forward planning.

If it were an option, would I choose to ride a helicopter or man a drone? I went out to research loads of information on both platforms and was sucked into drone photography. I have to be extremely careful how I shell out my money for these purposes. After much evaluation eventually, I would probably have opted for helicopter since the location in context is Iceland.

When would I use Drones?

  1. Price
    Drones definitely cost much cheaper compared to helicopter hiring. The prices for helicopters are set by two components which are aircraft cost and insurance. However, one has to be careful as there are cases of drone crashing over water body or hard to reach areas.
  1. Flexibility
    For obvious reasons, drones are able to get into places that helicopters cannot. Places that are close to the ground, through trees and near structures as this poses danger to the pilot of a helicopter.

Why I am in favour of Helicopter over drones?

  1. Quality
    By using helicopters, DSLR cameras have a greater flexibility as compared to drone cameras the technical aspect of the drone camera is that it has wonderful video capabilities and the images may look good in daylight but it still falls short under low light conditions.
  1. Versatility
    Flying a drone in Iceland may sound cool. But its capabilities are limited to its distance and the short amount of battery life. Helicopters have the greater operational flexibility than drones. It can carry heavier equipment and fly further and faster allows more site coverage in one day. In the context of Iceland, I would be able to cover the inner landscapes which may not be accessible by cars. However, its disadvantage is that it is weather dependant.
  1. Long term plan
    While it may seem tempting to invest in a good drone, but I probably have no use for it over the long run, except for recreational purposes. It is difficult to fly a drone in Singapore for commercial purposes. With the new drone laws, obviously one would need a permit and there are very limited places and height where the drone is allowed to be flown. Helicopters do not have the same height restrictions.

 

Conclusion

Aerial photographs give a unique perspective, particularly for marketing. Photographs easily help convey information concisely and are ideal in supporting management & progress reporting. It provides a permanent historic record that can be conveniently held in a digital format. Gives access to previously inaccessible areas, ideal for roof condition surveying. Aerial photographs can contain embedded date/time/GPS data. This is invaluable in supporting decisions and providing accurate information particularly if an evidence-based information is required. e.g. Health & safety, penalty disputes.

However, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground for helicopter and drones. Both are expensive in their own right and have their pros and cons. the determining factor which discourages me from investing a drone is that it is very difficult to get that commercial value out of a drone photography in the long run. But with the helicopter, it is just a more expensive, better quality commercial value. well, I guess from another perspective, one could say that Singaporeans tend to follow the law diligently so I won’t want to try anything reckless with a drone.

In conclusion, since the location in context is Iceland, I would probably have opted for a helicopter ride if I had the budget for it. Unfortunately, I don’t.

 

References

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-to-introduce-drone-law-5-things-about-these-flying-machines 

https://www.commissionair.co.uk/

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