Following on from my announcement as the new Director of training and development, I have decided to start 2022 with a regular blog to keep you updated with my pick of the latest developments and safety information in the drone industry as well as what we are doing in Iprosurv. Carry on reading, “Andrews Inspired Blog, it’s about all drones”.
I know there are lots of blogs out there but hopefully, you will find this one as informative with some ‘standing agenda’ items covered each time. Please let me know if there is anything else you would like me to research and cover. I am working on a few ideas to keep the blogs interesting and topical and will be looking for some engagement from you with any good news stories about drones or things you have done that others could learn from.
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I have created a couple of online courses which I will be presenting in person. Like some others, I have been very frustrated at some of the questions on various social media accounts where it is clear some remote pilots and operators are not understanding the new regulations. Some of these questions are coming from people who have passed their A2 or GVC qualifications so they either didn’t ask their RAE during their training or were given the wrong advice.
The first course is entitled ‘Drone regulations – Simplifying the jargon’ and is a 2-hour presentation where I use simple language to break down the jargon which seems to be confusing people. These include subjects such as Article 16, flying in Europe, Class of Drone and should I bother renewing my PfCO. The courses are limited to 10 people at a time to allow for some interaction and engagement to maximise the opportunity to learn about the new regs and ask questions. You can find this course at the following link ‘Drone regulations – simplifying the jargon’
The second course is entitled: ‘Learn how to fly your drone safely and within the regulations and is aimed at newcomers to the drone world, maybe those who got a drone as a Christmas present or just starting out. Again a two-hour presentation in person where topics such as airspace, battery care, basic maintenance and so on will be covered. This fills the gap for the Mini 2 and other subs 250g drones where the remote pilot does not legally need to learn the drone code and obtain a Flyer ID, so won’t know what an FRZ is or restricted airspace. You can find this course at the following link ‘Learn how to fly your drone safely and within the regulations’
Finally, I am also giving the opportunity of a one to one session with me to discuss anything drone-related, whether it is about new regulations, business models, initial OSC consultancy to Ops manual content. I have been asked several times to hold these one to one sessions so pleased to be able to announce them. You can find how to apply for the one to one session at the following link insert link to the course
I have been flying drones since 2014 and started off with the (at the time) highly capable DJI Phantom 1 with a GoPro 3 Hero black hung underneath, as well as a couple of fixed-wing drones and other DJI models. I don’t confess to being a drone test pilot so will leave that skill to the numerous bloggers, reviewers and youtube accounts where new drones are tested, compared and reported upon. The comparisons are really interesting and can often help with the decision on what drone to purchase. I have flown in a wide variety of scenarios, as a hobbyist, a commercial operator and a Police remote pilot in very demanding situations and using the Emergency Services Exemption.
A number of new drones have recently been released, non so eagerly awaited as the DJI Mavic 3 and what a capable (and expensive) drone it appears to be. Reading through some of the reviews it is a game-changer for some and a long-awaited upgrade to the Mavic 2. I also noticed Sony have now released their Airpeak S1 after initially teasing us with a preview in January 2021.
The sub 250g drones has never been so important since the new EU regs (UK (EU) Reg No 947/2019) that came into force on 31st December 2020. This weight category allows flights in the A1 subcategory with no training requirement. In fact, all you need to do is read the manufacturer’s instruction manual and register as an Operator (unless under 18 and someone else who is 18 has to register as an operator).
There is not even a requirement for the Flyer ID element of the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service. I think this may be an oversight and missed opportunity as to how will the new remote pilot know the rules and regulations. When the C class (UK class in the UK) of drones is introduced on 1st January 2023 then all new drones should have a card inside the box to tell you exactly what you can and can’t do, but no requirement if you buy a second hand from eBay!
POSITIVE DRONE STORIES
The Emergency services continue to deliver excellent results with the use of their drones to support aviation assets. My old force Devon and Cornwall Police, have been finding missing people as well as Lincolnshire Police and West Midlands Police. Some of the Police forces have some really good drone Twitter accounts so I would advise checking them out for any updates and see how they are using their drones.
A nice story you may have missed was the Search and Rescue dog Juno that went missing while out walking and was found by a Norfolk Search and Rescue drone after being missing for 5 days https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-59803073
Both at home and abroad we are seeing drones starting to make an impact on delivering vital supplies. In the UK we have seen hybrid and fixed-wing drones delivering essential items such as medical supplies, samples and post to remote islands or hard to reach surgeries and hospitals. Whilst at the CAA, I was involved in authorising the Operating Safety Cases allowing BVLOS flights to enable these vital deliveries. There was a huge amount of collaboration between stakeholders involved in getting temporary airspace restrictions to enable these operations to be carried out safely.
If you have any positive drone stories then please let me know as I would like to have this as a regular feature for each blog.
NEGATIVE DRONE STORIES
I am not sure if it is me but as drones are becoming more and more popular and talked about, I am seeing less reports of drone misuse being reported in the press. Are they now becoming more acceptable to the public so they are not reporting any misuse? The press seem to be reporting more good use of drones than bad. The anniversary of Gatwick drone incident of December 2019 passed by without incident but it is still be talked about as to whether a drone was sighted or not. The press ran a number of articles with different theories. However, we have not seen a repeat of this incident that has closed an airport for so long.
The only negative story I saw in the press in my local area was a drone being used to scare sea lions that were resting on a rock down off the Cornish coast
Interestingly I have not seen any articles relating to drone crashes, mid-air collisions, or accidents. So are we saying drones are inherently safe, the remote pilots are safe as it can’t be just down to luck that the drone industry has not had any reported fatalities since they started? Actually, should this be a positive drone story?
Again, If you have any negative drone stories then please let me know as I would like to have this as a regular feature for each blog.
CAA UPDATES AND SAFETY NOTICES
Of the 48 current CAA Safety Notice Publications (see link) there is only one applicable to Unmanned Aircraft Systems. SN-2020/010 Unmanned Aircraft – Responses to abnormal operations and in-flight failures. For those who have an Operational authorisation, you should have made reference to this safety notice and recorded when you have carried out your practice of your procedures. If you haven’t read this safety notice then please do so asap as it may help you recover from an emergency situation.
Have you seen the latest CAA makeover? Their website has had an update. I quite like the new look, a lot easier to find the pages you are looking for and some great info about drones. You will see they are using the term Remotely Piloted Aircraft now instead if Unmanned aircraft (one to remember for your Ops manuals!) I can see where they are coming from but they still use both terms so need to be more consistent.
Click on the following link and have a look at the latest pages on drones.
The following link provides a lot of detail for the public who do not fly drones, some good info but again uses the term UAS where they could have used RPA if that is what it is changing to. There are some useful fact sheets there to help explain the regs. They were launched when the new regs came out last year so are not new, but a new webpage gives a good opportunity to launch them again.
CAA SKYWISE PUBLICATIONS
The latest sky wise publication relevant to UAS was the information that the restricted airspace over Windsor Castle was being made permanent from 27th January 2022. Prior to that, the next UAS relevant Skywise alert was for the publication of the latest version of CAP 1789A, version 5, dated 14th December 2021 link (make sure you update your ops manual reference table). This document provides readers with a consolidated version of the text within the UAS Implementing Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/947 as retained (and amended in UK domestic law) under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018).
Airprox reports can be contentious for some, as they believe that the vague description, lack of detail and corroboration by the reporting person is providing unreliable information in some cases. We are now seeing more unknown objects being classified. The Airprox website if you haven’t already seen it, is well worth a visit. There is a lot of analysis and reports and the Airprox reports of 2021 are an interesting read. Please be aware of the criteria for submitting an Airprox report
Another good source of information is the AAIB reports where a UAS has been involved. The latest report involved a Prion Mk 3 fixed-wing UAS which crashed due to loss of power on Salisbury Plain in February 2021. The report highlighted some issues with the spark plug cap not being fitted securely which resulted in the UAS manufacturer modifying the fleet of Prion Mk3s and the operator changing their training and operational procedures.
Prior to that the AAIB investigated the crash of a Parrot Anafi USA which was being used in support of a police search operation. The remote pilot took off without acquiring sufficient GPS satellites to enable a ‘Home point’ to be acquired. This resulted in a loss of control and subsequent fly away when the RTH function did not operate as the pilot expected. The operator amended their inflight checklist to ensure a home location is recorded before take off.
These reports are not there to apportion blame, but to investigate what happened and try to prevent a repeat. In some cases the AAIB can recommend a Safety recommendation to the CAA. The safety notice 2020/010 mentioned above is a good example of a safety notice issued by the CAA after an AAIB investigation.
Confidential Human –Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) is an Aviation and Maritime Confidential incident reporting forum whose aim is to contribute to the enhancement of aviation safety in the UK by providing a totally independent confidential (not anonymous) reporting system for all individuals employed in or associated with the aviation industry. https://www.chirp.co.uk/
I am trying to work with the CAA to get an idea of the number and type of MOR reports that are being submitted. Obviously anonymised but it would be good to know how many MOR reports are being submitted and for what reason and what drone.
Remember, even when operating in the Open Category or Article 16 you have to report incidents under ECCAIRS. The Drone an Model Aircraft Code states:
So that’s for my first blog, I hope you found it informative and interesting. I would like to hear more about some of your drone jobs, experiences, crashes, tips, or tricks that you are willing to share with others through this blog. I see it as information sharing to help others learn from your knowledge and experiences so we can work together as an industry. My next blog will be coming in early March.
I am in the process if setting up a twitter and Instagram account to share further safety information and drone topics so please look out for them and give me a follow when you see them.
Established in 2014, Iprosurv provides companies with the in-house capability of drone and data/media delivery services. Our CAMERA system and optimum drone operator platform provides bespoke services be that an on-demand, fully managed service to independent data/media delivery services.
Iprosurv is a pioneer in the provision of drone technology across a range of industries. Its current network of pilots, covering the entirety of the UK, use a proprietary system to record, store and deliver drone data to clients in a fast and secure way. From building surveys to flood response to assisting emergency services, Iprosurv continues to push the boundaries of how drones can be used in business.