The Technical Stuff
Training and Qualifications
RAI and its pilots have been fully trained and approved by the CAA. The training course was carried out by the Resources Group (ID No: RPQ-s/FaiS/14/151) which now permits RAI to carry out commercial aerial work utilising UAVs/Drones. This also then allows us to obtain comprehensive public liability insurance which is essential when carrying out this type of work.
The training course by the Resources Group has taught RAI that the drones that most people tend to think as boys toys, are something more serious. These essentially are aircraft which share the skies with hangliders, helicopters, light aircraft and the odd passenger plane! And these all need to be kept apart, so there are strict guidelines in place with an altitude restriction of 400 feet, flight surveys and inspections need to be carried out especially checking for controlled airspace areas but to name a few.
So its not just a case of turning up somewhere launching the drone willy-nilly into unchecked airspace and environmental influences pre-flight planning is essential and is always carried out by RAI.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sets the rules on drones in the UK under what is called an air navigation order.
- An unmanned aircraft must never be flown beyond the normal unaided “line of sight” of the person operating it – this is generally measured as 500m (1,640ft)horizontally or 400ft (122m) vertically
- An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 50m (164ft) distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure
- An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must not be flown within 150m (492ft) of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert
- For commercial purposes, operators must have permission to fly a drone from the CAA
- Commercial operators of drones cannot obtain insurance unless they are are qualified and approved by the CAA.
The list above are just some of the rules for UK operators and having attended all the training courses and exams myself I was surprised at how intense the process was, but once completed it all made sense as at the end of the day these are aircraft sharing the skies with full sized aircraft and gravity is an amazing force too!
OUR DRONE TECH
We currently operate with a quad copter which is packed with technology including GPS controlled by a minimum of 6 satellites, orientation control, auto return home mode in the event of power loss and transmission signal loss, on board compass, intelligent lipo battery offering up to 25 minutes flight time, real time video down link to a 5inch TV monitor giving a birds eye view from the drone, a H3 2D gimbal for the GoPro camera mount producing the ‘owls head’ steady shot effect.
We also have something called FPV which stands for First Person View, in the form of goggles that you wear which house two small screens, so you can get a birds eye view from the drones video down link. Our customers can wear these goggles to observe the flight and are very useful when we do inspections of structures like chimney stacks, roofs and tall structures.
SAFETY ALWAYS COMES FIRST
Every flight will be subject to various surveys and checks well before the drone leaves the ground, with the first one being on-line using Google Earth to check for environment restrictions such as pylons, busy roads, schools etc. Then an onsite survey will be carried out to assess the proposed flight plan. The final checks will be for restricted air space once again carried out on-line, and then the weather forecast and only then will a time, date and weather window will be selected and agreed with our customer.