- heliguy™ OSC consultancy helps commercial drone pilot Richard Elliott achieve ambitious extended permissions, including becoming one of the first in the UK to be allowed to conduct single pilot operations to 1,000ft above ground;
- The OSC also expands his operational envelope by enabling EVLOS to 1,500m; reduced distances in flight and at take-off/landing; and the ability to conduct all of his extended permissions at night;
- Richard, of Richard Elliott Aerial Filming, says the OSC is a USP which has given him competitive edge to land additional job contracts and helped him capture better shots for film productions which weren't previously possible;
- He said he wouldn't have achieved such an ambitious OSC without heliguy™, adding that it was framed suitably to him, and the consultancy service saved him huge amounts of time and wasted effort, and made the 'unmanageable, manageable';
- CAA praised the 'clear and logical' OSC submission, aided by heliguy™, saying the low number of queries within such a complex bid was 'remarkable and rare';
- heliguy™ OSC consultancy streamlines the process of preparing an OSC, offering expert support, advice and client involvement throughout, reducing the chances of requiring costly rewrites.
A commercial drone pilot whose clients include Netflix and the BBC has praised the heliguy™ OSC consultancy for helping him achieve ambitious extended permissions - including EVLOS to 1,500m and becoming one of the first in the UK to be allowed to conduct single pilot operations to 1,000ft above ground level.
And Richard Elliott, of Richard Elliott Aerial Filming, said his Operational Safety Case is a USP which has given him a competitive edge to land additional job contracts, has opened doors that wouldn’t necessarily have opened without it, and has enabled him to capture better shots for film productions which weren’t previously possible.
The OSC also permits him to operate with a reduced distance of 20 metres in flight and at take-off/landing, as well as to conduct all of his extended permissions at night.
Obtaining sign-off from the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to operate at up to 1,000ft without a visual observer, and flying at night under the specific terms within his Operating Safety Case are notoriously difficult to achieve - but the heliguy™ OSC consultancy worked with Richard to prepare a compliant application.
On approval, the CAA commended the ‘clear, detailed and logical’ submission and described the low number of queries within such a complex bid as ‘remarkable and rare’.
The heliguy™ OSC consultancy streamlines the process of preparing an OSC, offering expert support, advice and client involvement throughout - reducing the chances of requiring costly rewrites. It is spearheaded by Josh, a former UAS Technical Surveyor at the CAA, responsible for the evaluation, development and approval of OSC applications.
Richard - who uses drones such as DJI Inspire 2s and Mavic 3 Cines to fulfil a work portfolio of aerial creative filmmaking and infrastructure projects - said that he wouldn’t have obtained such an ambitious OSC without the support of heliguy™. He added that the tailored application was ‘framed suitably’ to him, based on his level of experience and job requirements.
“Working with the heliguy™ OSC consultancy saved me huge amounts of time and wasted effort,” he said.
“The OSC can be created independently, compiled using templates, and there are pilots who have achieved their own OSCs, and all credit to them, but it is a complex process and I found it quite daunting and time-consuming: Time I would rather be spending on earning revenue within my business.
“The CAA is an arbitrary entity so it’s helpful to know what is achievable and what isn’t, so having Josh support me throughout the process made the unmanageable, manageable.
“If I had gone it alone, my application wouldn’t have been as ambitious as my submission through heliguy™, because I didn’t think the permissions I achieved were possible: For example, I thought a height of about 600ft would be the maximum I could go with an OSC application.
"But the fact that permission was given for up to 1,000ft showed it was possible: Josh knew it could be done based on my experience and pitched it exactly right, framing the application suitably to me.
“Most of my work is conducted as a single operator, so that specific aspect of the OSC was worth its weight in gold and has enabled me to do all sorts of things and been useful in numerous circumstances. As far as I am aware, I am one of the first drone pilots in the UK to achieve up to 1,000ft without requiring a visual observer.”
Drone OSC: Expanding The Operational Envelope
An OSC is a complex three-volume operations manual that is submitted to the CAA and enables pilots to operate outside the confines of a Standard Permission.
Richard can use his OSC to exceed the normal 400ft flight altitude and operate beyond the normal visual line of sight (up to 500m horizontally). However, the OSC does stipulate that he can only do one or the other during any one flight; a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) must be in place for any operations up to 1,000ft above ground level; and he requires a visual observer for his EVLOS flights.
He can also fly closer than the normal distance of 50m of uninvolved people and his take-off distance is reduced beyond the standard 30m.
These extended permissions provide Richard with clear operational benefits, which have resulted in him securing quality aerial footage - providing a different perspective for his aerial filmmaking.
For instance, this summer, Richard used his OSC to film the same subject on three different occasions and for three different clients: The Ring of Brodgar, part of UNESCO Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, which he filmed for a Japanese TV programme, for an upcoming feature film, and for the Green Space Dark Skies Orkney event.
He said: “The stone circle is more than 100m in diameter and when shooting with a 24mm lens - which in 35mm terms is the widest you can achieve with the Inspire 2, X7 camera and stock X7 lenses - you can’t capture the stone circle in one top-down shot if you are limited to a 400ft flight altitude under Standard Permissions, as the below image shows.
"However, when you take the drone up to about 800ft - as permitted by my OSC - you can capture it in one go and obtain a unique perspective, as shown in this image.
"Therefore, by using my OSC, I achieved a shot for each client that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible."
Drone OSC Is A USP Which Has Helped Secure Job Contracts
Richard is among a select group of UK pilots to hold an OSC and he believes these enhanced credentials have secured him extra work.
“The OSC is a USP,” he said.
“There are fewer than 80 pilots in the UK who currently hold an OSC, so it is a distinguishing mark, helping you stand out against operators who don’t have one.
“When I present my CAA Operational Authorisation with extended permissions, it demonstrates to clients that I can operate to a certain level beyond the norm, and opens doors that wouldn’t necessarily open without it.
“It provides a competitive edge. There have been a number of potential jobs with several drone operators in contention, but I went to the top of the pile after presenting my OSC, despite the extended permissions not being required for the particular project. To these clients my OSC demonstrated an enhanced level of understanding, safety, application, and competency.”
OSC Holds Tremendous Value
For all of these reasons, Richard is a firm believer that an OSC holds tremendous value.
He said: “There is a view within the industry that an OSC is increasingly irrelevant, especially as drones are getting smaller. While I understand this point of view, I have actually found the opposite.
"Having an OSC has proved to be persuasive for me in all sorts of areas, and I’ve used my extended permissions to film open-cast slate mines in Wales, sporting estates in the Scottish Highlands, railway lines and trains, the Scottish trunk road network, cruise ships, ports and wind farms.
“You spend time putting it all together, which in itself is a highly worthwhile exercise, and you find that it is incredibly useful - far more than I thought it would be and in ways that were unexpected to me.”
heliguy™ OSC Consultancy Builds Tailored Applications
The fact that heliguy™ was able to help Richard achieve such an ambitious OSC was testament to Richard’s own experience - having logged 1,000 flight hours over an almost-decade-long career in the drone industry.
Not only does it show the value of building currency in the pursuit of achieving a robust OSC, it also demonstrates how the heliguy™ OSC consultancy will create a tailored application for each client.
“Josh said that if I had only been operating for a year or two, there would be no way we would have gone for single operator permissions at 1,000ft,” said Richard.
“But Josh was able to demonstrate my level of experience and built an ambitious but realistic OSC to reflect this. We made this case, outlining the procedures and safety arguments, and the CAA came back to say that the documents were logical and provided a clear indication that I was capable of carrying out safe and effective procedures.
“After operating for eight years, it felt like a natural step to obtain an OSC and the time was right to expand my operational envelope. It was a pleasing outcome and I was really impressed with Josh’s assistance.”
Richard Elliott Aerial Filming: Using Drones For Global Clients
Utilising his background as a chartered surveyor and a professional photographer, Richard entered the drone industry almost a decade ago, obtaining his CAA Permission in 2014 and setting up Richard Elliott Aerial Filming.
Based in Scotland, and a member of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, he operates worldwide fulfilling creative filmmaking, architectural and infrastructure drone and ground briefs. He has built a stellar client portfolio which includes cinema-release feature films, Rolls-Royce, Google, British Airways, National Geographic, Harrods, BAE Systems, the BBC, and Netflix. He has also been contracted with Getty Images since 1990.
An early adopter of the technology, he flew drones such as the DJI S1000 and SteadiDrone QU4D, before embracing the DJI Inspire 1. He has continued to evolve his fleet and his current setup includes DJI Inspire 2s with X7 cameras, Mavic 3 Cines, and Mini 3 Pros - taking two of everything to ensure full backup kit on shoots which are often in remote locations.
He said: “I have found that the Mavic 3 Cine, in particular, complements the Inspire 2 really well. The Inspire 2 is great for all-important establishing shots, for example, but the Mavic 3 Cine is especially useful for capturing footage that I would rather not try with an Inspire 2 as a single operator, such as close filming car tracking or flying through woods.
“Sometimes Directors doubt that a drone the size of the Mavic 3 Cine can capture decent footage, but it really is a high-quality drone and its ProRes footage always impresses and is being used in feature films, particularly for B-roll."
Richard’s OSC is valid for a year and he will be reapplying on expiry. As well as holding his UK OSC, Richard has other permissions he also finds invaluable in his drone work: He is a First Option approved contractor for film and TV; he has a BOSIET & MIST certification for worldwide offshore wind, oil & gas work; he holds a full EU drone pilot licence; and is FAA Part 107 qualified for commercial drone work in the USA.
He said: “I have long been interested in aviation and from the first moment I picked up a drone I knew it was what I wanted to do, and even now - eight years on - flying a drone is still as exciting as it was on day one."