The InterviewRead on for our discussion with Drone Safe Register which includes opinions on the UK CAA's regulations, what they believe to be the most popular commercial usage of drones and where the industry is headed.
Could you give our readers some background into the work carried out by Drone Safe Register?MB: Drone Safe Register (DSR) is the fastest growing drone hire directory in the UK. The register is a heavily marketed directory for qualified drone pilots seeking incremental work. We are also the first UK drone organisation to highlight the issue of illegal drone operators and also the first organisation to register not only our members but our member’s aircraft too. We actively market the UK’s aviation rules and regulations that members of the public need to know before hiring a drone pilot.
What made you decide to set up the Drone Safe Register database?MB: Having invested time, money and effort into passing my CAA Permissions for Commercial Operation (PfCO) it was very clear that more illegal operators use their drones for paid work than legal pilots. No other organisation was highlighting this fact and no easy to use drone database existed. So, DSR was founded. Our mission is to promote our safe and legal members and put an end to illegal drone operators.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry since starting out?MB: The biggest change we have seen is more people are becoming qualified. This is clearly a good thing. Certainly more and more people are now aware of the law and the public understand the implications hiring an illegal drone operator. There is still some way to go to completely stop illegal drone pilots operating commercially without CAA permissions, however. A still from Drone Safe Register's safety video showing best practice.
What, in your experience and through conversations with clients, is the sector using drones the most?MB: We see and hear lots of DSR drone work enquiries being made every day. Drones are being used in all sectors of industry. Aerial inspection work and aerial filming for event coverage and production companies are very busy sectors currently.
How would you rate the current regulations the UK has in place compared to those abroad?MB: The UK’s aviation rules are fair. It is the enforcing of the drone rules that is the issue. DSR would like the police to get tough on those breaking the law and flouting the drone rules. As an organisation, we only concentrate on the UK, it would be impossible to set a safe hiring platform for the world. All our members are checked for valid PfCO and insurance.
How important do you consider the regulation of unmanned aircraft?MB: Drones are classed as a light aircraft so it is vital that they are integrated into the UK’s airspace safely. In the wrong hands, drones can be very dangerous and can injure people or endanger other aircraft. Regulation is required to ensure everybody knows what the rules are and to avoid accidents. We are looking forward to the CAA launching a new 'Dronecode' later this year.
What do you think will be the main changes in the industry in the next few years?MB: Drones are revolutionising the way we do business. Drone delivery tests are taking place so perhaps Amazon’s usage of drones to deliver goods is closer than we think. Drone technology and the applications in which UAVs can be used is changing all the time! Every day we hear of new ways that drones are being used to solve problems. Only today was a story about a new drone being developed to deliver a defibrillator to heart attack victims in an emergency situation.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start operating a drone professionally?MB: Commercial drone operators by law need to obtain CAA permission and insurance before they set up business. So our advice would be to become proficient by practising on an inexpensive drone. Once you have homed your basic flying skills you can then convert to a better drone such as DJI. Once you are a competent drone pilot you can then undertake the CAA permission course with an approved training school known as a National Qualified Entity (NQEs). The course requires you to demonstrate the necessary skills and knowledge needed by a professional drone operator. Even with your CAA permissions in hand, it can be a tough market to crack especially if you don’t have any photography experience. Also, on average there are only around 100 perfect flying days in the UK per year so you must factor the weather in. And it’s not just about being a pilot. Flying of drones is probably just 10% of the job. You’ll need to spend time marketing, accounting, maintaining kit and writing risk assessments.
Our TakeAs you'd expect, we take the aforementioned rules and regulations seriously and are available to discuss any queries our customers and trainees may have on the subject from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Give us a call on 0191 2961024 or email email@example.com to talk to our team, we're a one-stop-shop for all of your drone needs and this includes guidance on the responsible operation of unmanned aircraft. Heliguy has always been a strong advocate for responsible drone usage and we pride ourselves on our ability to evolve our training courses and customer advice, effectively keeping pace with the ecosystem. It's interesting to hear from companies like UK-based Drone Safe Register, built on the principle that commercial usage of UAVs may be an exciting prospect but for it to grow into the viable market many envisage, there must be guidelines to follow. We will be offering up more guidance on the changes to drone regulations in the coming weeks, especially with changes to the EASA's approach to categorisation set to come into effect in or around 2020 and, as mentioned by Mark, the upcoming changes to the CAA Dronecode. If you want a global perspective on how a range of countries regulates unmanned aircraft, read our in-depth guide HERE.
...Keep checking back to Heliguy's Insider blog for more information about legislation, aviation authority guidelines and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.