ExCAELO's equipment can do some pretty amazing things for your business, but our number one priority is to ensure everything is done safely and legally.
Basically, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ishould be thought of as a small low flying aircraft
All Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operators who conduct commercial operations of any kind in the United Kingdom must be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority UK (CAA UK) for the class of aircraft that they're using.
They should be able to provide you with a copy of their CAA Approved 'Permission for Commercial Operations' (PfCO), which includes an individual reference number.
Not having one means that they (and you) are breaking the law, so if an operator can't produce one, don't use them.
You can find a copy of ExCAELO's here.
Generally speaking, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles must not fly within 50m, or directly overhead, of persons, vehicles, vessels, roads and property not ‘under the control’ of the crew.
This may mean keeping people off footpaths or entry points, pre-flight leaflet drops, enlisting people to ensure onlookers don't stray into the operating area or even closing roads.
The 50m is how it is written in law. It doesn’t mention anything about horizontal distance, so in absolute legal terms, you would need to think of it as a bubble.
The CAA UK define 'under the control' of as:
- Anyone solely present for the purpose of participating in the drone flight operation.
- Anyone under the control of the event or site manager who can reasonably be expected to follow directions and safety precautions to avoid unplanned interactions with the drone.
Such people could include building-site or other industrial workers, film and TV production staff and any other pre-briefed, nominated individuals with an essential task to perform in relation to the event.
Spectators or other people gathered for sports or other mass public events that have not been specifically established for the purpose of the drone operation are generally not regarded as being ‘under the control of the drone operator’.
In principle, someone who is under the control of the drone operator at a mass public event must be able to:
- decide to participate or not to participate;
- broadly understand the risks involved;
- have reasonable safeguards established for them by the site manager and drone operator;
- not be restricted from taking part in the event or activity if they decide not to participate with the drone operation.
Permission has occasionally been granted for drone flights at public events by special arrangement. These permissions have been extremely limited and usually involve a segregated take-off site with the drone operating only vertically within strict lateral limits. There is no allowance for direct over-flight of persons.
An operator must also ensure that they do not "recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property” and that “the person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made”
The pilot must maintain Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the aircraft at all times and cannot fly higher than 400 ft (120m) or more than 500m away
We must also have the landowner's permission before we can take off or land on any site. If the land isn't yours, this usually just involves a quick phone-call, email or even a knock on the door, but occasionally it can be more involved especially when the work involves public or estate owned land or when the identity of the landowner isn't known.
Sometimes, Air Traffic Control may need to be informed of the flight, but this is usually a case of a quick phone call.
Before any flight, the area will be thoroughly risk-assessed (prior to deployment and on-site) and a plan for gaining control of the area will be designed and implemented.
Safety is our absolute priority and take every precaution to ensure safe flights.
- We don't fly if it's not safe to do so.
- We won't compromise the safety of others in order to fly.
The pilot on-site has the final decision to 'fly, no-fly'.
Every job follows the same safety protocols, which are documented in our CAA Approved Operations Manual:
Pre-deployment surveys -A two stage process that will initially confirm for you whether the job is feasible prior to making a firm booking and will give us an early indication of the airspace classification, any permissions, notifications or restrictions to the proposed work.
Once a booking is confirmed, the second stage is more detailed and involves checking NOTAMS (Notice To Airmen) to see if any manned aviation activities are taking place in the area, charts and maps to identify any possible hazards in the vicinity and further afield (which may be affected or could impact on the job) along with weather and weather warnings for the area for the proposed date(s).
On-site survey - This is conducted on the day and is designed to strengthen our pre-deployment survey.
If we have identified anything in the pre-site survey that causes us concern we will make a prior visit for a full on-site assessment. This will back up our pre-site survey findings.
Equipment Safety checks - Happen at three specific points:
1. Pre-deployment. All equipment is checked thoroughly prior to loading.
2. Pre-flight. All equipment is checked carefully on-site before flying is undertaken.
3. Post-flight. All equipment is checked carefully after each flight. This includes between battery changes and at the end of the day.
Fail safe systems - The UAV is fitted with several fail safe systems. In the event of a radio transmitter failure the UAV will land itself at its take-off point. We can initiate the fail safes at any time to return the UAV to its landing area.
Emergency procedures - We regularly practice our emergency procedures. To ensure we are calm and under control in the event of a system failure.