Royal Wedding gatecrasher

By | CAA and Regulation, Drones

With the next Royal Wedding imminent, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 May, the CAA has posted a Restricted Airspace (Temporary) over the Windsor area for the whole weekend, see http://skywise.caa.co.uk/alert-restricted-airspace-temporary-4/?cat=30.  NATS and Heathrow ATSU will have everything under control from an airline traffic perspective and will be hoping that the normal westerlies will prevail so the noise from any aircraft overhead can be minimised, especially during the marriage service itself.

Manned aviation operatives, being in touch with other ATSUs and possibly Heathrow itself, will be made aware of this restriction before venturing into the area on either of these days.  Commercial drone operators, the good ones at least, will also do their due diligence and realise the RA(T) applies to them and any drone operation as well.  NOTAMs relating drone operations in the Windsor area raised through the NSF procedure already appear on websites, so with the RA(T) in place, NATS is very unlikely to sanction any drone operation in the Windsor near or on these dates.

With the world media and press watching, it will be a momentous occasion but what is the probability that a non-regulated and irresponsible drone owner ‘tries it on’ on the day – just for that exclusive view or footage.  And if that happens will anti-drone technology be applied?  There has to be a big chance it will.

As a drone operator, will you watch the event on TV?  If you do, let’s hope you don’t see something you recognise crashing in on the scene.

John Moreland, Head of Training, DronePartners

North America leads the $20 Billion Drone Market in 2018

By | Drones

A new drone market research report by Research and Markets makes the largest and boldest prediction yet for the drone industry, which the report predicts will exceed $50 billion in the next 7 years.  This report estimates Compound Annual Growth Rate  of 14.15% from 2018 to 2025.  “… increasing use of UAVs in commercial and military applications is one of the most significant factors projected to drive the growth of the UAV market,”North America is expected to  lead the market this year, largely due to increased defence expenditures of the US and Canada and the presence of major UAV manufacturers in North America.  The European and Latin American regions are expected to be the new revenue-generating markets for unmanned aerial vehicles,” says the report.

EASA Opinion 01/18

By | CAA and Regulation

On 6 February 2018 EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, posted its Opinion 01/18 in its website,https://www.easa.europa.eu/document-library/opinions/opinion-012018.  At first glance it looks innocuous enough, especially as EASA is charged by the EU with bringing commonality or harmonisation to drone law across the EU.

 

Based on NPA2017-05, EASA wants EU states to implement the ‘Open’ and ‘Specific’ categories under the pretext that the Opinion will:

 

  • “implement an operation-centric, proportionate, risk- and performance-based regulatory framework for all UAS operations conducted in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories;
  • ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS operations;
  • foster the development of the UAS market; and
  • contribute to addressing citizens’ concerns regarding security, privacy, data protection, and environmental protection.”

 

This Opinion will go forward to the EU Parliament and is expected to be enshrined in EU law later this year.

 

For the UK CAA, it will be a very interesting time.  Its response to NPA2017-05, seehttp://www.caa.co.uk/uploadedFiles/CAA/Content/Standard_Content/Our_work/Consultations/Responses_to_external_consultations/Files/20170914EASACRTNPA2017-05PartA.pdf, was politically correct but as it challenged almost every EASA precept it could be concluded that the CAA is not at all in favour of the proposals.

 

The Register, see https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/26/easa_drone_regs_opinion/, thinks the CAA and the UK Parliament will have to tow the line and incorporate all the Opinion in the proposed 2018 UK Drone Law.  This is like counting your chickens before they hatch.  Let’s see when Opinion 01/18 gets into EU Law, where the UK is with respect to Brexit and what other EU countries decide to do.  As much as EASA tries to dictate across Europe it hasn’t been very successful so far in the drone world.  When dealing with the NAA’s,  it’s worth remembering the First Article of the Rules of the Air:

 

“Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.”

The CAA may well revert to a Churchillian gesture with respect to EASA.

 

John Moreland, Head of Training, DronePartners

 

Drone Pilot Detained for flying over football match.

By | Uncategorized

A drone pilot has been detained by police after flying a drove over Newport v Spurs FA football match on the 27thJanuary.

The drone was flown over the grounds, in Newport during the first half of the match.  The police then tweeted, “Anyone caught piloting a drone over Rodney Parade during the match…you could be prosecuted, we have already detained one pilot.  Please respect the occasion”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-42847749#

 

Lee Bullock, Flight Assessor, DronePartners

Swimmers rescued by drone in Australia

By | Uncategorized
While lifeguards in Australia were being trained how to use drones, they spotted two swimmers off the coast struggling in the waves from the on-board camera.  The drone was equipped with a life buoy that could be dropped from the aircraft.  One of the lifeguards operating the drone managed to manoeuver the aircraft above the swimmers, within 70 seconds, and drop its payload.  Holding onto the inflatable that was dropped the two could swim to shore safely. 
Drones like this can be used for many emergencies from dropping life buoys, fire extinguishers to even medical supplies.  Drones saving lives!  
Lee Bullock, Flight Assessor, DronePartners

UAVs pose less of a risk to airliners than government officials claimed

By | CAA and Regulation, Drones

A British drone collision study used as evidence for the government’s flagship drone pilot registration law found UAVs pose less of a risk to airliners than government officials and trade unions have claimed.

The full report wasn’t published but it has been seen by the Register, there are some interesting observations – https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/04/qinetic_drone_collision_study_airliner_windows/

 

Drone Market Sector Report for 2017

By | Drones

Skylogic Research, LLC has published a Drone Market Sector Report for 2017 based on data collected from 2,600 respondents in 60 countries worldwide.  Some interesting statistics including:

  • Nearly 80% of operators only complete between one and five operations per month, and
  • 85% of these operators make less than $50,000 (£45,000) gross per annum

As with all new business ventures in emerging markets there are some that make it and a lot that unfortunately don’t.  This research is nothing new to DronePartners.  It confirms a pattern seen over the last 5 years.  However DronePartners’ experience and knowledge of the market and its dynamics might help you make it.

Links: www.droneanalyst.com, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/skylogic-research-report-unveils-drone-industry-market-share-figures-300520971.html

John Moreland, Head of Assessment, DronePartners

Emergency Services Operations ORS4 #1233 General Exemption E4506

By | Emergency Services

Under the above ORS4 the Emergency Services, holding a valid PfCO, have been granted a special exemption that can only implemented short term reactive situations aimed at preventing the immediate risk to human life, or during a major incident.  Under the provisions of this exemption, the distance the drone can be operated from the drone pilot can be extended beyond 500 metres when certain protocols have been followed and are authorised.

The CAA requirements are that:

  • The distance from the remote pilot station does not exceed the maximum control range of the aircraft, as stated in the operating manual of the emergency service under whose authority the person in charge is operating the aircraft;
  • The drone is not flown beyond a distance of 1000 metres from the remote pilot station without the explicit approval of the On-Scene Incident Commander;
  • The drone is not flown beyond a distance of 2000 metres from the remote pilot without the explicit approval of the Tactical Commander assigned to the incident.

Each force or service will have to incorporate precise procedures and protocols in their Operations Manual for these circumstances.  As it stands today, most forces and services are working in isolation trying to develop local processes so there is no standard wording available or pronouncement on acceptability from the CAA.

The challenge for all emergency service operators is to provide sufficient training and knowledge to all their competent pilots so that they can take the appropriate action and decision in these special circumstances.  Most drones operated today will have a command and control range in the order of 3,000 metres in radio line sight.  Seeing the video image and seeing what the drone is actually doing will be a problem, and if the terrain is not flat there is a strong likelihood that the drone will not make it back even with an automatic ‘Return to Home’.

Losing the drone isn’t that much of an issue if it contributes to saving human life but with emergency services financial resources stretched as they are there won’t be too many On Scene Incident Commanders or Tactical Commanders who will readily authorise an extended flight profile when the drone may not be seen again!  This does suggest that the emergency services do need to invest in more capable longer distance drones and situational awareness systems rather than the standard commercial products currently used.

A Practical Guide to Drone Law, Law Brief Publishing

By | Uncategorized

On Thursday 23 November 2017, the offices of Carter Lemon Cameron, the Barbican-based law firm, was the setting for the public launch of a new book on drone law.  Titled ‘A Practical Guide to Drone Law’ and published by Law Brief Publishing, it was put together by Rufus Ballaster, a commercial property lawyer, Andrew Firman, a corporate and commercial lawyer, and Eleanor Clot, a trainee solicitor.  Of course those well versed with the history of the UK drone industry will recognise the last surname.

The authors have targeted the book at both lawyers as well as drone operators and their advisers.  It opens with a review of current regulations and then delves into other legal matters.  For those who are familiar with the legal aspects of commercial drone operations much of the early material is straight out of a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) Theoretical Knowledge course provided by most NQEs.  It’s from Chapter 5 onwards that the discourse becomes a little more interesting delving into the areas of property ownership, trespass, negligence, nuisance, contract and other damage claims.  These are grey areas at the best of times and Chapters 5 and 6, all 18 pages of it, unfortunately only skim the surface.

In summary, this is a reference book that new drone industry entrants could be wise to familiarise themselves with especially as there are many legal issues the CAA does not regulate and leaves to others.  It’s probably not essential reading but borrowing a copy is recommended.  For those of us in the drone industry having to address the legal issues on the ground daily, this book only gives us a glimpse of some of the more intangible legal ramifications.  It might be interesting in any future court case whether the presiding judge actually refers to this book.  He or she might as a starter for 10.

CAA Statutory Charges 2018/19: Consultation Document CAP1601

By | CAA and Regulation

The furore that has echoed around the drone industry since the CAA published its Consultation Document on its proposed Statutory Charges for 2018/19, effective 1 April 2018, would suggest that the CAA has raised the barrier to entry so high many existing drone businesses will be taken out and new ones will be discouraged from applying for a PfCO.

Yes, the charges for an initial PfCO are going up from £173 to £247 (a huge percentage), and the renewal is increasing from £130 to £185, but these once-a-year fees are miniscule compared to the going day rates charged by the better drone operators.  In return the CAA should improve its services in terms of responsiveness and turnaround times.  This has to be worth it.

Those that can see the opportunity will pay: it’s those who are struggling to make a decent living that may not renew.

And the operators aren’t the hardest hit.  NQEs and those wanting a non-standard permission are going to have to pay a much higher price.  For them guaranteeing a return on investment, with the fees coming straight off the bottom line, is going to be harder especially for NQEs as the number is multiplying at a rapid pace.

The CAA has recently indicated in private that the number of NQEs has expanded outside all expectations and, even though they receive a substantial fee from each but they need to maintain real credibility, impartiality and capability to process new drone industry entrants or they will face loosing their status.

The CAA has long provided a service on a shoestring.  With the new fee structure this industry should look forward to a more responsive, pro-active and involved CAA.  This industry needs to work with its regulator rather than expect everything to be handed to them for next to nothing.