Drone Surveying Training

What are the Best Practices for Planning your Drone Surveying Flight

Best Practices for mdCockpit

When you’re out in the field flying missions, you should always expect the unexpected. The mdCockpit app was developed to provide you with the flexibility you need to tackle projects and overcome changes and challenges as they arise.

mdCockpit is an Android application used for planning, executing, and monitoring missions for drone surveying equipment from Microdrones. In this series of videos, Robert Chrismon, PLS, reviews the best drone surveying practices for mdCockpit flight planning, field operations, preparations, and field quality control checks to ensure the high quality collection of survey-grade data. In this first video, Robert reviews the best practices for planning your mission.

Planning Best Practices

Before launching your drone surveying equipment and capturing data, it’s essential to create and manage all aspects of your flight plan.  That includes in-depth pre-planning and communication with the customer to ensure sufficient coverage for the area of interest to be surveyed. Google Earth is a great tool to review the project site, locate coordinates and check the surrounding air space for any advisories or restrictions.

Google Earth can also help with a preliminary site check to help identify a safe landing zone, terrain challenges, and if there might be any issues with maintaining visual line of site.

Weather Conditions

It’s also important to check local weather conditions before you fly. You can check the weather forecast from a number of different 3rd party resources of your choosing to monitor winds, precipitation, visibility, cloud cover, and other meteorological data.


A Microdrones mission can be planned using external software, such as Google Earth, and opened in mdCockpit Android if saved in a KML file format. Then, the KML mission can be easily saved or copied to mdCockpit.


You are now ready to start planning your survey mission in the flight editor of mdCockpit and import your KML files, manage any layers, and review the area of interest.


 After importing the flight area, you can now use mdCockpit to build your mission and flight parameters. In this video, Robert reviews his process for planning his flight in mdCockpit.  For further information and details, please refer to the mdCockpit user guide which provides a full description of all the features that are part of the application. It informs the user of all the application functions available to the operator and their specific integrated system.

Field Operations

After the mission is planned in the office and you arrive on site, you can conduct a site review and ensure you’ve adequately prepared the flight for the area of interest.


At the site, find a suitable location to set up your base station that’s free of obstructions and set up accurately over your control point.


Next unbox the drone from the carrying case and perform a pre-flight inspection.   For a safe and effective flight, you must prepare the survey equipment correctly. Use the preflight checklist each time so that you do not forget an important step.


After setting up and inspecting the drone for flight, make sure the launch area is clear of any debris that could brush up against the props or payload during takeoff. Then take any final preflight steps to install the battery and connect the electronics.


After the system is prepared for flight, open mdCockpit and begin the process to load the flight plan.


With the mission uploaded, the drone surveying equipment is ready to fly. Before takeoff, be sure to check the settings on mdCockpit for satellites, GNSS, battery voltage to ensure a safe flight. After takeoff, it’s important to monitor the tablet, drone, and surrounding airspace at all times.


Upon completion of the flight, mdInfinity provides quality control modules to confirm the validity of the data. The Trajectory Control allows the users to perform a quick test of their Trajectory Files before performing any Processing in mdInfinity. The module exports a simple detailed report including the Mission Duration, the Number of events, IMU continuity check or Base Station information, amongst other info.

Then the LiDAR Coverage Preview module is an easy to use workflow for users to check the quality of the Georeferenced Point Clouds. The LiDAR Coverage Preview quickly georeferences your Point Cloud. By introducing the raw LiDAR data and raw trajectory files (with no configuration whatsoever), the module provides a Point Cloud with the selected FOV in the Geodetic Datum WGS84. It’s not a full Georeferenced Point Cloud, but a fast baseline to validate the quality of your Point Cloud.

After confirming the quality of the data from the flight, you are now ready to begin processing.  Here’s a link to learn more about the Best Practices for Processing Drone LiDAR Data.

For more information on using drone surveying equipment, please speak with one of our helpful representatives.