PUBLIC SAFETY DRONE FACT SHEET - Frequently Asked Questions, Answered! June 08, 2017



SAR – Agencies across the nation and globe have adopted drones as a primary tool for search & rescue, and positive results are stacking up.  According to a recent DJI study, 59 lives have been saved with the use of drones since 2013, and 38 of those were rescued in the past year.

CRIME SCENE – Inexpensive drones are proving to be a great alternative to manned aerial shots and eliminate the need for boom equipped vehicles.  In tandem with software, these inexpensive drones can map scenes in 3D in a matter of minutes vs. hours using traditional techniques.  

OFFICER SAFETY INTEL – Quietly, prior to raids, properties are being flown to gather details, improving mission planning and officer safety.  Ingress and egress points with cover and concealment are visualized, additional search points pinpointed, and during the execution, drones can provide real-time situational awareness. 

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT & ASSESSMENT – Drones are being deployed in response to disasters providing immediate, unique aerial perspectives.   These views are enhancing effective resource allocation, route management, and disaster area inspection…maximizing personnel safety.



Contrary to perception, effective drone systems are very affordable and this is a result of proliferation in industrial, and enthusiast markets.  On average, …

a field ready public safety drone system cost just $3,652, according to a recent MAXSUR survey.  The big cost driver for most systems, are thermal cameras which can range in cost from $5,700 to $12k.   Cost comparison chart



To operate drones under FAA rules, public safety agencies are required to obtain a COA (Certificate of Authorization).  In summary, the COA application amounts to a declaration of SOP’s, equipment used, and training levels that the agency requires for its pilots.  In terms of cost, there is no application fee, and there are free SOP templates available online, that eliminate the need for expensive consultation.  Guide for obtaining COA

Originally instituted for commercial use of drones, most public safety agencies require their pilots to obtain a FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.  This promotes a uniform level of individual pilot knowledge, and may allow an agency to bill commercially for drone services rendered.  To obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate, there is a multiple-choice 63 question test and a $150 testing fee.  Guide to Part 107



Based upon a survey of MAXSUR customers, formal training can range from none, to forty hours.  On average though, most agency pilots obtain eight hours of hands-on flight training that is augmented by sixteen hours of online training, covering FAA national airspace rules.  Additionally, most agencies require pilots to conduct monthly proficiency training.  Policy Guide With Example Training Regime



The FAA rules do not specify drone maintenance, other than adherence to the drone manufactures published procedures.  Generally, drone manufacturers recommend a regime of physical inspections prior to each flight, calibrations, and routine checks for firmware updates. 

Annually, it is highly recommended that agencies replace flight batteries and relegate them for training use only.  



For both small and large agencies, a common thread is the designation of a drone program manager.  Typically, the program manager acts as the hub of information for all things related to drones.  Duties involve monthly reporting required by the FAA, applicable state reporting, upkeep of FAA certifications, acquiring or conducting training, formation of policies, monitoring adherence to regulations, and ensuring maintenance is properly conducted.   Depending upon the size of the program, this is typically a duty and not a full-time position.  Example Drone Program Policy 


• For additional information, please contact the MAXSUR team at 1-855-778-6565, or at

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