Drone Consultancy Services
Drone photography and data collection services are growing fast and this trend is set to continue. With every new technology there is a steep learning curve and as both a provider of drone services, born out of being an end user of drone services, we have identified the primary issues that clients need to have knowledge of.
If you are looking to hire a Drone Pilot / Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) company, there are some important legal requirements that you should be aware of.
The pilot / company you hire needs to:
Have current certification from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This is currently called the PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations). However theses are issued depending upon size of UAV, time of flight and proximity to people and property.
Have valid specific Public Liability Insurance to EC785/2014.
But this just scratches the surface of the mandatory requirements of the UAV sector. For example...
Am I OK If I Hire Someone Who Isn't Certified And Insured?
Would you hire a gas fitter to repair your gas boiler who wasn't Corgi registered? OK, say you did and your boiler blew up, would your insurance cover you?
So why should it be any different if you hire a company to do some aerial photography for you? Put it another way, how many times has your computer frozen? How many times has your mobile phone crashed? A drone is a piece of hardware that flies. What happens if it glitches in flight and someone is injured?
Do you think you would avoid prosecution if it could be shown you took the cheap option and hired an unqualified and uninsured pilot? Our verified Pilots are fully trained and insured so you can rest assured when using our quote service.
I've Got The Photographs And Video Online And Everything Went Fine. What's the Problem?
A trained eye can look at drone footage and determine if it's been filmed legally. If you are showing or promoting aerial footage do you have all the correct paperwork in place to verify who filmed it? More importantly can you prove it was filmed legally if it was drawn to the attention of the Police by your competitors or neighbours?
If you are thinking of having drone aerial photos, footage, or mapping, please read the following again. We repeat and expand upon what was previously written but feel that some things need repeating. This is a relatively new industry and we hope to raise the publics awareness one reader at a time.
A drone flight that is not strictly recreational is considered commercial and is regulated by the CAA. This includes flights with no financial compensation. It could be considered that using your own aerial footage to sell your own house is a commercial operation because the photographs are being used for commercial gain.
Where Can Drones Fly?
The safety regulations that govern where commercial operations can be undertaken are mainly contained in Articles 94 and 95 of the Air Navigation Order (ANO).
Article 94 states:
(1) A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.
(2) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.
(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
(4) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:
(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;
(b) within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained;
(c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.
(5) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of commercial operations except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.
Article 95 states:
(1) The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.
(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are:
(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft;
(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.
(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the person in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.
(5) In this article 'a small unmanned surveillance aircraft' means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.
We hope this page helps raise your awareness of the laws that surround this new and exciting industry and that this information will help you keep within the law.
Here's check list of some basic questions to help you.
Ask to see the pilot’s CAA PfCOs.
Ask the pilot whether the job is in CAA controlled airspace. All commercial pilots must have prior CAA authorisation to fly in controlled airspace.
Ask the pilot for a copy of their Public Liability Insurance. If you’ll be working on a more complex project, or one where risk is involved, be sure to get an Additional Insured Endorsement with your company’s name listed.
Ask the pilot about their registration with the Information Commissioner's Office. ICO. There may be data privacy issues, as legislated in the Data Protection Act, that need addressing. Click here for ISO statement regarding drones.
Ask about rights to photographs and footage. If privacy or nondisclosure is of interest to you, be sure to take appropriate steps to protect your property and images before work begins.
Ask the pilot about their experience. Is this their full time job? How long have they been in business? How many drones are in their fleet? Do they have backup equipment if there is a failure?
Ask the pilot about their safety record. What about their flight logs? Have they ever crashed a drone or had an incident on a job? Do they fly with a Visual Observer?
A good pilot will have quick and simple answers to these questions.
What is it you need? Simple photographs? Videos for your company website, Youtube or perhaps broadcast quality for TV? Are you streaming live footage of an event?
What about survey data? Are you familiar with the terms Ground Sampling Distance (GSD)? What about Absolute and Relative Accuracy?
If you believe the blurb put out by drone manufacturers then you would be correct in assuming that survey data captured by drones is accurate but we have learned first hand that this is not the case. But we know what happens when you assume things and we've tested things in the field. Lessons learned and all that.
The GPS systems on your entry level commercial drones is only accurate to a few metres, so any topographical data collected will have the same degree of accuracy. However there are technical systems and working methodologies that can bring this down to 3cm in the x, y and z plane. We know this because we can do this. We can also offer advice on this matter to help you determine the best protocols to gather data fit for purpose.