Skip to content
Candrone logoCandrone logo
Search and Rescue: Overcoming Adverse Conditions

Search and Rescue: Overcoming Adverse Conditions

The Candrone service team recently received an urgent call from a Search and Rescue (SAR) organization requesting assistance in a critical search operation. Helicopters from local police, SAR, and military were dispatched but were soon grounded due to severe weather, expected to persist for the next few days. Ground crews were also recalled due to the high avalanche risk.

The Challenge:

  • Extensive cloud, fog coverage, and whiteout conditions
  • Search area at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level
  • Steep mountainous terrain

The Plan:

The SAR team established a vantage point on a local mountain, providing the best line of sight towards the search area. The Candrone team of experienced pilots accompanied the SAR crews, ascending 1,500 meters by truck and snowcat to the mission launch site.

Despite continuous attempts by helicopter crews to reach the peak, they were eventually grounded, giving the Candrone team the green light to deploy their UAV.

The Mission:

The flight planner estimated it would take just over five minutes to cover the vast stretch across the valley and into the mountains. The team set off, flying at over 57 km/h and ascending 1,200 meters (1.2 km in altitude).

The Candrone team was the only team to reach the summit that day. Despite poor visibility, the Candrone team conducted four successful flights to the peak, searching for any signs of missing hikers. Utilizing infrared and wide-angle cameras, the drone scanned for footprints and evidence of avalanche activity.


Key findings:

  •  DJI Altitude Unlocking: DJI altitude locks to a maximum of 500 meters. We were able to submit an unlocking request under emergency SAR within 30 minutes of submission. If you are planning a drone program for SAR applications, get this application done ahead of time.
  • Piloting Skills and Training: This type of flying required extensive experience and a deep understanding of the drone's capabilities, limitations, and features. Navigating the terrain using instruments and maps was crucial. The visual obstacle avoidance system was ineffective in these conditions; a radar system might be better.
  • Radio Range: The radio range of the DJI system was incredible. Despite cloud and fog conditions, we maintained a solid link throughout the entire operation. Strategic flight areas for the best line of sight (LOS) were pre-planned, saving us a lot of time.
  • Battery Life: The key limiting factor was battery life. We only had minutes to spare on top to look around, landing with 25% power remaining. Hybrid drone systems could improve this in the future.
  • Navigation Aids: The terrain contour map and ASL indicator on the DJI map were essential for navigating whiteout conditions and steep terrain. Augmenting contours onto the FPV camera would greatly aid navigation.
  • Icing Conditions: Drone manufacturers should develop technology to address icing conditions, as drones are often used in SAR when helicopters can't fly. 

The Outcome:

Although the missing individuals were not located, the mission demonstrated the incredible capabilities of drone technology in search and rescue operations. The team identified several environmental factors that influenced subsequent search missions for both ground and aerial crews. This experience reinforces the role of drones as a vital resource in public safety technology, showcasing their potential to assist in critical rescue missions even under the most challenging conditions.

Get in Touch!

Speak to our experts about Search and Rescue: Overcoming Adverse Conditions

Contact Us
Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping