How a 7-million Customer Utility Deployed Drones in Response to Hurricane Florence

The following is an excerpt from Improving Hurricane Response with Drone-based Aerial Intelligence, a whitepaper that compares traditional disaster response methods with drone operations on the basis of cost, safety, data quality, and time-to-value. Download the whitepaper to learn how to incorporate drones into your hurricane response. 

Case Study: A 7-Million-Customer Utility Partners with PrecisionHawk to Improve Hurricane Response

In 2016, a large electric utility partnered with PrecisionHawk to get power back up faster in storm-battered areas. Hurricane Florence hit two years later, causing 900,000 people in North Carolina, and 95,000 people in South Carolina, to lose power—and PrecisionHawk was there to find accessible routes to areas of concern, help ground teams assess the damage, and relay information back to the utility’s operations center so it could deploy repair crews to the right places with the right equipment.

Ground Teams and Pilots Collect the Data

Before Hurricane Florence hit, PrecisionHawk’s pilots gathered at the utility’s operations center to create flight plans. These pilots, like all of PrecisionHawk’s pilots, had been trained in safety procedures, mission planning procedures, and emergency management. PrecisionHawk’s Flight operations teams are run by a former Navy fighter pilot with 20 years of experience; bringing that background into the flight ops experience ensures that safety is a prime consideration. The safety procedures include:

  • Use of checklists.
  • Briefs in the morning and evening.
  • Briefs before and after each flight.
  • A “lessons learned” program to help operators increase their knowledge with each deployment.
  • Procedures for disseminating all key details across the flight ops teams.


In the case of hurricane response, PrecisionHawk’s pilots also use a checklist to make sure they not only have the right UAVs and sensors to support the mission requirements, but also that they have the water, fuel, and other supplies required to successfully and safely conduct a mission in what could be a dangerous environment.

After tens of thousands of flight hours, we’ve learned what it takes to maintain a zero-incident record. And this excellence is reflected in our accreditations:

  • ISNet A-rating—Recommended for Use
  • ISO accreditation in safety

With PrecisionHawk, you get immediate access to drone operators on a global scale. The largest of its kind in the world, PrecisionHawk’s Drone Pilot Network boasts 5,000 licensed operators who are available to respond to emergencies anywhere in the United States within 24 to 72 hours. 

By complementing your hurricane response plan with our experienced drone operators, you can get the data needed to speed repair crews’ response time, and restore power to your customers, without sacrificing safety. 

Download our Whitepaper “Improving Hurricane Response with Drone-Based Aerial Intelligence” to learn more.