Whether you refer to them as an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA) or a drone, the opportunities and risks are the same, and require professional processes and procedures to ensure precise and safe operations.
The first question we are invariably asked is "how far can they fly". The text book answer is - legally up to 500m from the operator, as long as unaided line of sight is maintained with the aircraft. The aircraft can be flown at up to 400ft (122m) height above take off point, but in some circumstances and in coordination with Air Traffic Control (ATC) we can fly them higher than that.
We work to our own Operations Manual, which conforms with UK air law and guidance and is independently assessed by EuroUSC and accepted by the CAA. Our operational and maintenance procedures ensure the safety of the public, buildings, structures and our crew - with site surveys, pre-flight equipment checks, as well as maintaining logs for crew flying hours, battery usage and aircraft maintenance procedures. Our operations logs are independently audited by EuroUSC and our CAA permission to work is renewed every twelve months.
We conduct a pre-flight site survey of every location where we operate, including a review of the airspace. Some sites may require special permissions from the CAA or local Air Traffic Control (ATC), we will always identify such requirements and liaise with the appropriate authorities to obtain all necessary exemptions and permissions.