Time now for the Third blog of the series. “Andrews Inspired Blog, it’s all about drones” Thanks for the feedback some of you have sent me, much appreciated.
Iprosurv RAE status and new Iprosurv Academy
A couple of weeks ago Iprosurv were proud to announce that they had been approved by the CAA as a Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE). As one of the UK’s leading commercial drone providers this is a natural addition to our portfolio and endorses my commitment when I started Iprosurv to be able to provide first class training and development to our Operators and the wider drone community. I am really looking forward to delivering our courses with the team of experienced and qualified instructors I have supporting me. I foresee a busy year ahead.
With the RAE approval we are now delivering the following courses:
- A2 C of C
- Combined A2 C of C and GVC
- PfCO (NQE) conversion to a GVC
I have also developed a number of other non CAA courses which include:
- Flight skills and training
- Operations Manual reviews
- One to one consultations
- OSC consultancy
- Mapping and surveying techniques
Iprosurv are offering some fantastic franchise opportunities to come and work for us. We are looking for people with various skills in areas such as forestry, agriculture, construction, engineering, infrastructure and security, so please come and visit our website for these and other opportunities.
As mentioned in my first blog I am not a drone tester or reviewer. I enjoy flying drones and see them as a tool to assist what I need to capture, whether that be data, video, images or locate someone or something. I also need to use them for training, so like to have a good selection of makes and models. All drones whatever make or model will have their own features suitable for the task. I love when new drones are released by manufacturers and go straight to You tube to find the latest reviews.
I am biased to DJI as have used different drones in many different roles and in my opinion the DJI drones do exactly what they say they will do in all the circumstances I have used them in. Yes, they are not perfect but then I use Apple products as well!
If you are a DJI fan like me, then their launch event on 21st March was spectacular and the new M30T is quite an amazing piece of kit for its size, weight and price. A game changer for the Emergency services and those involved in emergency services work, especially with its portability and being able to get it airborne in less than a minute.
DJI also released their new Flight Hub 2 software that helps you to plan precise flight routes, and manage your fleet, staff and media amongst other things.
Finally, and I must admit caught me by surprise was the launch of the DJI dock which houses the M30 and again that is an amazing piece of kit.
I would love to see a roof top box version of this for a Police car.
All I need to do now is amend my letter to Santa!
POSITIVE DRONE STORIES
Apart from the M30T being released there continues to be several positive drone stories. The emergency services continue to provide social media footage of their successes with drone (I will comment on the AAIB reports later in the blog). Using thermal imagery for searches and routine day time deployments to support operations I think most of the 43 forces are now using drones either as a standalone or in collaboration with other emergency service operators.
The CAA’s #ShotOnMyDrone competition was launched on 21st October last year and culminated in the awards ceremony at the Royal Aeronautical Society on 29th March 2022. I was lucky to be invited to the event and to see Sir Stephen Hillier, Chair of the CAA announce the winners of the four categories:
- Urban day
- Urban night
The competition was aimed at educating people on drone authorisations required to fly across towns, cities and the countryside. With over 800 entries it was a great success. I look forward to the next competition.
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. Email
NEGATIVE DRONE STORIES
Not sure where this next article sits, whether it is positive or negative but the use of drones in the war between Ukraine and Russia as received massive publicity on all news outlets (except RT!)
Who would have thought that a President in a country at war uses social media to call for all drones and drone operators to assist. We are not talking the Reaper style drone here, drones of all shapes and sizes are being used to gather intelligence on the enemies’ positions, report damage and assist with life saving work. Both sides are using these small unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance purposes. There has been a huge amount of support with companies sending drones out there. A Dutch volunteer group company recently sent 187 mini 2 drones to Ukraine to help them.
One downside of using the drones especially DJI has highlighted the issue of counter drone technology, particularly the use of the DJI Aeroscope. I have used this equipment on many an occasion and for those that don’t know it can accurately pinpoint the exact location of the drone but more importantly the remote pilot. There have been numerous news articles showing a missile attack on a remote pilot in Ukraine that was identified by Aerioscope. I am sure DJI never expected to be embroiled in a war time situation. They are being accused of giving Russia preferential access to its Aeroscope platform while some units provided to Ukraine are not working correctly, although no evidence to show this.
Suffice to say it has been an interesting story watching how DJI has been dragged into this and the unintended use of Aeroscope. Perhaps some new policies will be developed over time.
NEGATIVE DRONE STORIES Cont…
Talking about Aeroscope, a story picking up pace on social media is about the Airspace restriction that has been put up over the Aintree Racecourse for the Grand National this year. There is a lot of talk that this is an abuse of the system as a large airspace restriction is disproportionate for the reason given to protect helicopters arriving at the racecourse. The conversation on social media suggests it has been put up to prevent the people using drones to bet on the race. Whereas the reason given is to protect the airspace around the arrival and departure of helicopters attending the race.
Whether you like the concept of using drones to bet on sporting events or not, it appears to be a difficult topic for some. From a CAA/Police perspective there appears to be two angles to this.
- Are the drone operators flying in accordance with the ANO/UK(EU) Reg no 947/2019
- Is the betting activity a criminal or civil offence
Whatever side of the fence you sit on, it is big business for the drone operators who can earn a small fortune from in play betting and taking advantage of being able to reduce the latency from the live footage to the TV screen. A lot hinges on broadcasting rights and transmission of the live data when someone else has the rights to do that, namely the TV companies.
No different to someone standing mid-way along the final straight with a laptop on a stand and sending images back to someone else to put the bets on, but using a drone is deemed worse.
With the power of the zoom on some of the drones such as the Z30 the drone can be 600-700 metres away, probably more to get the footage they need.
This has been going on long before drones were around. Cherry pickers were used from residential driveways overlooking the course to allow a video camera to capture the footage required.
If you haven’t seen it, Michael McCool did a very informative article on the issue
Of course, the betting industry could put a stop on it overnight, if they stopped the in play betting, but then they would lose money!
Some interesting developments on social media with FOI requests going in and legal action being threatened. Watch this space and I will update you on the next blog.
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 Email
CAA UPDATES AND SAFETY NOTICES
I represent Iprosurv as a CAA RPAS stakeholder and attend several meetings so get an opportunity to hear from the CAA and any updates they have.
I attended the recent RPAS Stakeholders meeting a few weeks ago where they gave an update on the Drone registration figures:
250,000 Active Operator IDs
270,000 Active Flyer IDs of which 5,000 were issued to under 13 year olds.
7,000 Operational Authorisations have been issued for the PDRA-01, which is about the same as what PfCO numbers were.
30 active RAEs and don’t forget we are one of them!
Safety reporting project.
The RPAS unit admitted that given the volume of flyers, the level of reporting is very low, especially when compared to GA. With 270,000 known flyer IDs, around 7,000 Operational Authorisations there are around 44 MORs per month.
The RPAS unit has set up a project to look at how this can be improved and understand why reports are not being done.
Don’t be afraid to report an incident, its not about apportioning blame but about learning from others and improving safety in the industry.
Work is being done to re-publish CAP 722 and make it more of a new easy access guide to the regulations, like the Skyway Code.
A new and updated version of the AMC/GM to the UAS IR will take the place of CAP 722.
The UK CAA will produce a UK specific SORA
We then discussed Article 11 and the rules around conducting an Operational Risk Assessment (ORA) which will replace the Operating Safety Case (OSC) in due course.
Of the 45 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 practise 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.
CAA SKYWISE PUBLICATIONS
There were several Skywise publications flagged for the Drone alert. Mostly changes of airspace and NOTAMS being issued, latest CHIRP bulletins and the new scheme of charges.
Scheme of charges; The latest scheme of charges for UAS can be found at the following link I have copied the main table for UAS OAs and variation fees but you will need to visit the link above to get more details. Let’s just say there is a small price increase in all areas, but not as bad as my electricity and fuel bills!
If you haven’t heard of it or subscribed, the CAA’s Skywise is a fantastic tool to allow you to keep yourself up to date with the latest CAA publications. You can set alerts to receive emails on updates for drones such as legislation updates, airspace updates or safety notices. Please subscribe at the following link
A number of airprox reports involving a drone have been discussed at the February meeting and details can be found at the following link
An interesting read is the investigation into the Airprox for a DJI Matrice drone (they seem to be in the news a lot) and a Jabiru J430 fixed wing flying close to Lark Engine Farm airstrip. Worthy of a read, as highlights the need for planning and issues when working around an airstrip with no FRZ
The recent AAIB investigations into UAS incidents can be found at the following link
Since my last blog there have been 4 investigations, all relating to the DJI Matrice series of drones.
- DJI M210 V1 – 19th November 2020, 1150 hours Poole Dorset – Fly away due to battery issue
- DJI M300 – 21st November 2021, 2251 hours Blacon, Cheshire – UA arms not locked securely
- DJI M300 – 17th August 2021, 0036 hours, Dursley, Gloucs – UA arms not locked securely
- DJI M300 – 3rd August 2021,2337 hours, Old Trafford, Manchester – UA arms not locked securely
These are interesting incidents that have happened to quite a large and heavy drone. They all appear to have been operated by the emergency services at the time.
I am not attempting to be the nine o’clock jury when I talk about these incidents. I have been on the end of that type of jury before in my career. I wasn’t there at the time so can’t comment on what else is happening with the drone pilots, all I can go through is the AAIB reports which I believe would be the closest one could get to the facts as they would have carried out an in depth investigations looking at flight logs and dealing with the remote pilot and drone manufacturer.
The reports are full of facts and advice and there are some easy take aways to prevent these happening again, so I am hoping all the Emergency services Accountable managers are looking at their processes and procedures to prevent a repeat.
The M210 incident is very different from the other 3 and has its own areas to be addressed to prevent a reoccurrence. Seems technology has also played a part to prevent a repeat with a safety catch introduced to the M300 to prevent the battery popping out. But there are plenty of M210s still out there that this could happen again. Human factors appear to play a big part here and opportunities for an observer to double check battery fitment and voltage readings.
It is a good reminder to all, that if you take a wind speed reading using an anemometer than that is at handheld height and will be different to wind speed at 400 feet. Likewise using apps to help measure wind speed may be misleading especially when it is right on the limit of your drone.
The AAIB has raised 4 safety notices as a result of this investigation. 3 are for DJI and the 4th for the CAA.
The three for DJI relate to notifications for the Go App 4 to raise awareness to the remote pilot (or observer if 2 controllers used) of the wind speed and the effect on the drone and associated warnings.
The 4th safety notice was for the CAA to clarify the VLOS distances away from the remote pilot. CAP 722 states that ‘The CAA will normally accept that the VLOS requirement is met when a UA is flown out to a distance of 500 metres horizontally from the remote pilot but only if the aircraft can still be seen at that distance’
The remote pilot using the M210 stated they could see the UA but not its orientation which raised concerns with the AAIB that if they can’t see the orientation of the UA how could they be expected to avoid a collision if they didn’t know which way the UA was facing. The safety notice is requiring the CAA to clarify the meaning of VLOS especially where it is not just about being able to see the UA. As yet there has been no clarification from the CAA over this.
The three M300 crashes are very interesting and appear to have all been involved in a search operation. All occurred in hours of darkness 2251 hours, 0036 hours and 2337 hours. Lots of coincidences there that cannot be ignored. Has human factors played a part in the deployment of the drone, was their sufficient light in setting up, has the time of day been a cause, was there any pressure on locating the person they were looking for.
Like I have said I am not apportioning blame on anyone, I have been a Police drone pilot for several years but just looking to see what we can take from this and dovetail into training and CPD.
The emergency services need extra training on top of their basic CAA training as they operate drones differently to your average drone user.
When working with DJI the AAIB found that there may be an issue with the folding arms and lock collar:
When the arms are extended during preparation for flight, they are each locked in place by a ‘twist to lock’ collar. To prepare for flight the collar is slid along each arm towards the main body of the UAS to a position where it encloses the hinge mechanism. The collar is then rotated clockwise which engages and tightens on a threaded section and the collar ‘clicks’ into a locked position. This action ensures the arm is held rigidly. There is a small alignment placard on each arm to show that the collar is locked. However, the arm, hinge and collar assemblies on these commercial grade UAS are of high quality and are manufactured to close tolerances. As a result, when the collar is slid into its initial position to surround the hinge, it immediately holds the arm rigidly in the extended position even though the collar has not been rotated and locked. It is therefore possible to assume the arm is held correctly but the collar is not locked. If the UAS is launched in this condition the vibration in the arm caused by the motor and propeller, although slight, causes the collar to move outwards, releasing the hinge. A combination of procession and thrust from the rotating propeller then causes the arm to fold.
Don’t forget, if you are involved in an Aircraft accident or serious incident you must report this to the AAIB 24/7 on their 24 hour reporting line 01252 512299.
Further guidance about what to report can be found here
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/
If you didn’t catch it in my last blog the January Drone Feedback report can be found at the following link No other reports have been issued where drones have been mentioned, but the latest GA feedback report is a good read.
Finally, I couldn’t end without mentioning the severe weather that hit us in February. In the space of one week, we had three severe weather warnings affecting the UK. Named storms Eunice, Dudley and Franklin caused havoc with the weather and sadly several people were killed.
Very rare to see a red ‘danger to life’’ weather warnings but to see two on the same day is even rarer. With top speeds of 122 mph recorded at the Needles, Isle of Wight, it was a good time to batten down the hatches and take the time to carry out some drone maintenance, update log books and postpone any jobs.
That’s it for now for this report.
If you have any suggestions or ideas as to what you want me to mention in my next Blog then please let me know.
In the next blog I will be discussing maintenance issues and what you can do as an Operator to keep your drone safe when flying. I will be speaking with an authorised DJI repairer to find out the current trends in collisions and hopefully get an update from the CAA regarding MOR reports.
With us now moving to British Summer Time, it is great to see the evenings getting lighter to extend our operational flying time.
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.