Heliguy's Drone Operations Manual Renewal Service Helps Mountain Rescue Team

Heliguy's Drone Operations Manual Renewal Service Helps Mountain Rescue Team

heliguy™'s Operations Manual renewal service has enhanced the life-saving capabilities of Buxton Mountain Rescue Team - helping to upgrade the document to enable nighttime drone flights.

Last updated: Mar 09, 2021

5 minute read


  • heliguy™'s Operations Manual renewal service expands Buxton Mountain Rescue Team's life-saving capabilities;
  • Our instructors help build a CAA-complaint document while expanding the scope of the permissions to enable night flights;
  • The Buxton team can now deploy drones at a wider range of incidents;
  • The team uses DJI drones, saying they can make a critical difference to search and rescue missions.  

heliguy™'s Operations Manual renewal service has enhanced the life-saving capabilities of Buxton Mountain Rescue Team - helping to upgrade the document to enable nighttime drone flights.

The rescue volunteers turned to our drone training team to help update their Operations Manual, keeping it CAA-compliant but expanding the scope of the permissions.

Within a day, the heliguy™ instructors reviewed the document and made key recommendations to bring it up to date with the new drone regulations and include the all-important night-time authorisation as an added extra.

The Operations Manual was subsequently approved by the CAA, meaning the Buxton team will now permanently carry their DJI drones on response vehicles and deploy them at a wider range of incidents than before.

Rob Stordy, Deputy Team Leader at Buxton Mountain Rescue Team, said: “Our team are experts in search and rescue and the outdoor environment in general, however we are definitely not experts in paperwork! Thankfully, when we turned to heliguy™ for support with updating our Operations Manual, they were only too happy to help.

“Inside a day they read, checked and made suggested edits to the manual, and helped us include night authorisation for flights outside of daylight hours; and thanks to the help of heliguy™ - whose responses were prompt, thorough and well-informed - we quickly received our renewed Operational Authorisation from the CAA.

“Our drones will now be used at a much wider range of incidents than before, expanding our provision to conduct search and rescue missions and save lives.”

Streamlined Drone Operations Manual Process

heliguy™’s annual Operations Manual renewal is an essential service to enable drone teams to fly safely and legally - providing crucial advice and support during the preparation of the document. In cases like Buxton, our expertise can help pilots scale and grow their operational permissions and capabilities.

We also provide streamlined Operations Manual generation to help pilots build a CAA-compliant document - shaving hours off the usually time-consuming process.

Ben Shirley, Head of heliguy™ Training, said: “We were all too happy to help Buxton Mountain Rescue Team update their Operations Manual to renew their operating permission. With the introduction of the new UAS regulations, it’s vitally important that UAS Operators not only maintain compliance, but also their understanding of the changes to their permissions.

“Night operating permissions are something which the vast majority of UAS Operators have enjoyed since their standardisation sometime ago, however, when we identified that Buxton had not previously incorporated such procedures into their Operations Manual, we sought to increase their deployability by recommending a series of specific operating procedures; leading to their subsequent successful renewal application.

"Had we not expedited their review, they may not have been eligible to renew their permission with their existing NQE qualifications. Responding in a timely manner ensured they achieved their permission before the deadline and in the most cost-effective manner.

“Here at heliguy™, we are advocates of the use of UAS by our emergency services and voluntary rescue organisations; working extensively with both to ensure safe and effective operations. One can think of fewer more benevolent reasons for drones to be used than that of saving lives.”

Using DJI Drones To Save Lives

The updated and upgraded CAA permission is part of an ambitious new 18-month strategy by Buxton Mountain Rescue Team to take its drone provision to the next level, expanding to a highly capable and widely deployable team asset.

The team is embarking on this mission after experiencing first-hand the benefits that drones bring to search and rescue.

In fact, in 2019, Buxton was the first Mountain Rescue Team in the UK to be granted a PfCO by the CAA, having started to look at the advantages of deploying UAS to improve incident response in 2017.

Rob said: “We know from our first couple of years operating drones that they are great at quickly searching open or steep areas of land and water. This can make a critical difference to a search and rescue operation.

“Locating casualties or missing people quickly maximises their chances of a positive outcome, while also reducing the need to commit team members to rough ground or bodies of water which could risk their safety.

“Not only have we found the drones great for searching, but they obviously also record great footage, which is useful not only for us as a training aid but also to provide the police or coroner with a clear image of incident scenes when required.”

Scaling Search And Rescue Drone Programme

The team currently uses two DJI Mavic Pro drones, purchased on the back of a fund-raising campaign which was well-supported by local grants and community generosity.

These platforms have provided a good entry level to drones and enabled the team to develop their skills and demonstrate the use case, but the aim is to move towards a higher-spec aircraft in the future.

A drive to grow the drone-pilot team runs in parallel, with the ultimate aim of having 10 fully-trained operators. Buxton Mountain Rescue Team currently has two pilots, and four aspiring pilots.

Rob said: "It’s clear to us that, at the moment, we are just scratching the surface of how drones can be used in search and rescue operations.

“Over the next six months or so, we will deploy the drones at almost all incidents we attend and monitor the operations to see how they can help us in less obvious ways and what capabilities we may want a new drone to have in the future. When the time is right, we will likely turn to the public once again to help with funding.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a good number of highly-competent trained pilots and a state-of-the-art drone. Together they will be capable of assisting with all manner of incidents - contributing to saving many lives and keeping our team members safe.”

Click here to donate to Buxton Mountain Rescue Team.

About Buxton Mountain Rescue Team

Buxton Mountain Rescue Team has been operating since 1964.

Over the years, the team’s role and the number of incidents that members attend have grown significantly.

The team now attends more than 100 incidents a year, ranging from sprained ankles to searching for missing vulnerable people and rope rescues at major incidents. In 2019, the team was deployed to the partial dam-wall collapse at Whaley Bridge.


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