Flying in windy conditions

WingtraOne handles wind differently than most drones due to its unique VTOL tailsitter design. This article describes the optimal configuration of the drone, related to the operator, in order to achieve the highest data and flight quality

WingtraOne can be operated safely in the specified wind bounds without caring about wind direction during flight planning. The specified wind limitations can be found in the Environmental conditions article.

In case you fly far away (>1-2 km) and WingtraOne has to fly against the wind on the way back to home, return to home (RTH) with 38 percent battery capacity remaining is on the limit. Thus, RTH will be automatically triggered earlier, based on the amount of power required for WingtraOne to return to home safely.  During flight, if WingtraOne senses that the wind is >12m/s for 10 seconds, automatic return to home will be triggered for safety reasons.

Flight behavior and data quality is influenced by wind and can be optimized if you follow some recommendations during the different stages.

Take-off

In order to reduce drift right after take-off, place WingtraOne on the ground parallel to the wind. The drone will pivot on the yaw axis while it ascends in order to prepare for the transition perpendicular into the wind. You need to reserve more space on take-off in high winds.

Transition

Within the specified wind bounds, WingtraOne can handle all orientations, but we typically want it to transition into the wind given the choice. Safety and adhering to regulation should be the first concern, but if given the option, try to transition into the wind.

In-flight

Set the flight direction such that the sweeps are flown perpendicular to the wind in order to maintain a consistent speed during data collection. Try to reduce heavy tailwinds or wind blowing from behind during flight. In case of heavy elevation change, prioritize flying parallel with contour lines over any adjustments for wind in case both are not possible to account for in your planning. The consequences of less-than-ideal positioning for wind are potentially less than flying too close to the ground.

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Automated landing

This is the most important part to understand for flying in winds. Spatial orientation is an important concept to safely control the UAV on the descent. Spatial orientation defines our natural ability to maintain our body orientation and/or posture in relation to the surrounding environment. During an automated landing, WingtraOne naturally orientates into the wind, and will continue to naturally turn into the headwind dynamically. This is why it might turn on its yaw axis during descent.

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Assisted landing

Occasionally, it may be necessary to interrupt the automated landing procedure. WingtraOne is less stable while descending. By taking over, you stop the descent and WingtraOne stabilizes. It is necessary to land the Wingtra using “assisted” mode in the following circumstances:

  • Low GPS warnings
  • The landing site is not clear of obstacles within a 15-meter radius
  • The automatic descent appears to be happening in the wrong location
  • The automatic descent is erratic and does not seem stabilized
  • Winds are causing the Wingtra to descend at an angle that may cause a forward fall after landing

Maintaining spatial awareness for a WingtraOne landing means that the front of our body is facing the same direction to where the camera points, and that we are looking at the top Wingtra cover logo.  The drone will naturally face the wind without any commands in assisted mode as well. Our descent is slower than take-off, so we try to let the aircraft float or ride the wind down in a controlled manner.  As long as it continues to face the wind, the surface controls will hold the UAV position and perform a controlled descent. You should NOT attempt to control the yaw axis for landing in assisted mode or the drone may drift.

For take-off and landing, it is important to maintain a safe distance from wind barriers or obstacles, such as buildings, as this can produce uneven turbulences that can cause the aircraft to drift uncontrollably. It is NOT recommended to fly near wind barriers on the ground or land near objects placed to reduce wind. Let the WingtraOne naturally adjust direction into the headwind and ride the wind current free of uneven turbulences during the descent.

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Winds will decrease as you get closer to the ground, and right before touchdown, the aircraft will go into ground effect approximately 0.5-1 meter above the ground. Ground effect is caused by ground interference with airflow patterns around an aircraft when close to the ground. It causes additional lift. If you are in assisted mode and are experiencing extra floating, hold the throttle descent down farther to counter additional lift.

 

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