Ensuring Success in Construction Progress Monitoring: Insights from a DSP

Construction Project Manager

Drones have become an integral part of documenting progress workflows for most commercial construction projects.  Construction managers inevitably face the decision of when to pivot from regularly sourcing 3rd party drone service providers (DSPs) to building an internal drone team.  While the urge to build an internal team from the start is tempting, there are many factors to consider before making that leap.

As a certified and insured commercial drone pilot having flown many construction monitoring missions, I understand the complexities involved in ensuring successful outcomes on every project. When considering the option of internalizing drone operations, commercial construction project managers must carefully weigh the challenges and potential pitfalls that come with this decision. 

In this blog post, I’ll highlight the key mission preparation elements from the perspective of a drone service provider and discuss the challenges project managers may face if they opt for internal operations without the proper expertise and resources.

Construction Manager Meets with Drone Service Provider in the Field
Construction project manager meets with the Drone Service Provider (DSP) Pilot in the field

Flight Planning

Flight planning is a critical component of any construction monitoring mission, requiring careful consideration of site layouts, airspace restrictions, and potential hazards. As a certified and insured DSP, we invest significant time and resources into developing comprehensive flight plans that optimize coverage while minimizing risks. Project managers must recognize the complexities involved in effective flight planning and the potential consequences of overlooking key considerations. Without the necessary expertise, internal operators may struggle to develop safe and efficient flight paths, increasing the risk of accidents or disruptions to construction operations.

Risk Assessment

Conducting a thorough risk assessment is essential for mitigating hazards and ensuring the safety of drone operations. Professional DSPs have the experience and knowledge to identify potential risks and implement appropriate safety measures. In contrast, internal operators may lack the expertise to conduct comprehensive risk assessments, leaving them vulnerable to unforeseen dangers. Construction project managers must consider the potential consequences of inadequate risk management, including costly damages, injuries, and liability issues.

Pilot-in-Charge (PIC) checks drone for proper operations
Pilot-in-Charge (PIC) checks drone for proper operations

Equipment Check

Maintaining drone equipment in optimal condition is crucial for reliable performance and data accuracy. Professional drone service providers adhere to rigorous maintenance protocols to ensure that all equipment is in proper working order before each flight. Without the proper training and resources, internal operators may struggle to perform thorough equipment checks, increasing the risk of technical failures or malfunctions during missions. Project managers must weigh the cost savings of internal operations against the potential costs of equipment damage and downtime.


Effective communication is essential for coordinating drone operations with construction teams and other stakeholders. Professional drone service providers establish clear communication channels to ensure that everyone is informed and aligned throughout the project. In contrast, internal operators may face challenges in effectively communicating with external parties, leading to misunderstandings or delays. Project managers must consider the potential impact of communication breakdowns on project timelines and deliverables.

Law Book
At the core of every drone mission are essential FAA rules for conducting proper and safe flight operations.

Regulatory Compliance

Navigating regulatory requirements is a fundamental aspect of drone operations, with strict guidelines set forth by the FAA. Professional drone service providers are well-versed in regulatory compliance and ensure that all operations adhere to legal standards. Internal operators may lack the necessary knowledge and experience to navigate complex regulations, putting the project at risk of fines or penalties. Project managers must prioritize compliance and consider the potential consequences of regulatory violations on project outcomes and reputation.


While internalizing drone operations may offer potential cost savings, commercial construction project managers must carefully consider the challenges and risks involved. By partnering with professional drone service providers, project managers can leverage expertise, resources, and experience to ensure the success and safety of construction monitoring missions. Cutting corners on technical requirements, safety considerations, and regulatory compliance can result in costly damages, injuries, and legal liabilities, underscoring the importance of making informed decisions when integrating drones into construction projects.

From The Editor:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on matters pertaining to the safe, professional, and ethical operation of drones. Please check our website at www.aerialdecisions.com and watch this space as we expand on the above topics and more over the coming weeks and months.  If you like this post, feel free to click the share button at the bottom of the page.  We appreciate you helping us by spreading the content we share on our blog.

Jim Gibson