Dubai survey firm enjoys business gains thanks to WingtraOne reliability

Dubai is a gleaming showcase of architectural and construction ambition. Every year, new skyscrapers, islands and/or attractions pop up along its skyline. To track developments and manage vertical property from the ground is impossible. So it’s no wonder that one of the city’s leading surveying firms, GEOTECH 3D, has been turning to drones since they were just emerging as mapping solutions in 2014. By 2017, they began mapping with SenseFly drones, and over the next few years they had a large fleet.

“So SenseFly was a nice experience, because it gave us the advantage of collecting massive amounts of data,” said Walid El Hajj, Technical Manager at GEOTECH 3D. “At the time it was good.”

In 2018, the company purchased a VTOL from a Chinese firm. But it wasn’t working since the desert climate in Dubai is extreme for some systems. The team was “sending the drone for repair, and when it was opened it was full of sand,” El Hajj explained.

Desert climate; large, urban developments; needs a reliable and high-quality system to stay competitive and on top of business

For each project we had to destroy a drone and then buy another one, and it just wasn’t helpful. So we made a good deal with Wingtra’s Dubai distributor Sigma, and now we have two WingtraOne’s and are preparing to buy another two very soon.

Walid El Hajj
Technical Manager, GEOTECH 3D 

From dream to reality: incident-free drone operations

The need for drone data in Dubai is driven by several key factors. First, the development and ambition of investors means a lot of construction projects to track. Second, the city already boasts a lot of highrises and densely packed infrastructure that can only be kept track of in detail from the air.

“There are a lot of vertical assets,” El Hajj said. “And there are so many possible benefits with the drone data. We are talking about monitoring tenant use of rooftops and tracking violations; we are talking about construction project progress, we are talking about creating a geodatabase for the city.”

One major project GEOTECH 3D has been trusted with is the mapping of a 180 km2 (70 mi2) area comprising the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali, the Palm Deira construction project, and the Jumeirah islands and village.

This is the fourth time they have run this mapping project, and data capture took only 24 days flying two WingtraOne’s in parallel. Subtracting delays from formalities like getting permissions, El Hajj said the data capture would actually take just 14 days with the WingtraOne. Not only was this about 40 percent faster than with the previous solution, but the quality of the data also jumped up. 

The difference flying this project with Wingtra is that it’s the first time we didn’t have an incident. And the data is much higher in resolution than what we were getting before. This quality gets us attention, and we are now the preferred service provider in some areas in Dubai that we map continuously every year.

Walid El Hajj
Technical Manager, GEOTECH 3D 

WingtraOne ROI on a 112 km2 (43 mi2) survey project

ROI measure eBee icon
SenseFly eBee Plus
WingtraOne icon
Survey time
13 days
9 days
25 days
0 days
Net gain
-9350 USD
Loss via downtime, repairs, shipment
16,890 USD
Total savings
26,240 USD

The difference in downtime and support is key to understanding the ROI of a system.

“This is the first time I feel my business is stable”

There’s definitely a demand for drone data in Dubai these days, and that demand is set to grow radically with the July 2021 announcement of upcoming smart city initiatives. An abundance of work is only part of the picture when working with mapping drones, however. UAV data providers need to know that they will collect a reasonable margin to keep their business on the leading edge. Saying that, having a fleet of drones so prone to damage was a huge liability for GEOTECH 3D. As was seeking support from direct competition.

“I started working with the previous drone company before they had a local distributor,” El Hajj said, “and I was forced to send the drone every time abroad for repairs and maintenance. So you can imagine the nightmare I had. Then when we started working with a local distributor, it turns out they were a direct competitor for our projects.”

WingtraOne’s reliability as well as the company’s focus on partnering with distributors who prioritize the success of the end user has been a game changer, El Hajj said. While he’s had only once a need to get one of his WingtraOne’s checked, his experience set him at ease and showed him Wingtra and its partners put his needs first.

“If I compare both products, which I have,” El Hajj said. “We had one early concern with Wingtra. I spoke to the supplier [Sigma] and it was really interesting how they handled it. They said: ‘Okay, here’s another drone, we’ll take your drone, go finish your work.’ And that kind of support I didn’t see before. This is someone who is saying ‘okay your project is more important than what’s happening technically; we can look and discuss later.’ What Sigma did was amazing, really.” 

The thing I really want to highlight about Wingtra is that this is the first time I feel my business is stable. I’m not struggling in doing business with a drone. I have a stable system and a team there for support, and the Wingtra system is really evolving—the company understands our needs as engineers.

Walid El Hajj
Technical Manager, GEOTECH 3D 

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