One of the most common misunderstandings we encounter is the assumption that all project costs are equal regardless of the time of day or season. One thing we would like our clients to understand is that the more specific time requirements, the higher the cost; likewise, flexibility almost always saves you money. There are several specific factors that help us understand your needs and offer you the most competitive price.
A common question from a client is a generic leaf-off, 10:00 am-2:00 pm flight schedule for their project. However, the 10-2 really doesn’t mean anything to us because what the client is really requesting is for their data to be collected during a specific sun angle. That time frame is generic and not accurate throughout the year, as sun angle isn’t consistent from month-to-month or even day-to-day. If we limit our collection to that 4-hour window, we may miss hours of collection opportunities resulting in extending the project and increasing the overall cost of the acquisition.
A more cost-effective request for us is to focus solely on the sun angle and give us the flexibility to determine the best time frame for the capture. We use the NOAA Sun and Moon Azimuth calculator to provide a precise timeframe for each day, rather than calculating a 10 am-2 pm capture. Flexibility in schedule can also save you money, as we may be able to move a project’s flight schedule to a month that provides more time with a proper sun angle.
Another example of capture time frame being relevant is the tidal window coupled with proper sun angle for collection. If we are collecting LIDAR, we have two low tide periods to work with. If we are capturing imagery, we only have one and sometimes that doesn’t even fall in the sun-angle timeframe. The more limited we are with capture time, the more risk involved for us with the project. Risk always equates to a higher cost for the project.