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Preparing for a drone survey

As the popularity of drone technology increases in both the personal and commercial spheres, the government has been prompted to introduce a number of rules and regulations for the safe flight of drones and unmanned aircraft. Drones, when handled improperly, can be unpredictable and pose a danger to the public, private property, or the person(s) tasking with piloting them.

Because drones are so useful to surveyors, it’s important that Landform Surveys properly equips its staff with the tools and knowledge they need to avoid facing penalties or compromising the success of a project.

In this article, we look at how best to prepare for a drone survey, and why it’s a vital part of land surveying.

What is a drone?

A drone is a type of small unmanned aircraft. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) defines a small unmanned aircraft as ‘any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than 20 kg without its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight’.

There are separate rules for flying drones as part of commercial operations and for recreational use.

When is a drone part of a ‘commercial operation’?

A ‘commercial operation’ is when a small unmanned aircraft:

  1. Is piloted by an SUA operator
  2. On behalf of a customer
  3. Whereupon the customer has no control over the operator
  4. In return for remuneration or any other valuable consideration

In layman’s terms, this means that Landform Surveys can undertake drone surveys for you, as long as we employ a certified drone pilot and adhere to the laws surrounding aviation of unmanned aircraft.

What are the rules for flying drones?

To safely fly a drone, our SUA operators must adhere to the following rules:

  • Article 241 – Endangering Safety of any Person or Property
    The operator must not allow the drone to endanger any person or property by being reckless or negligent.
  • Article 94 – Small Unmanned Aircraft Requirements
    An operator must ensure: that nothing (whether a person, animal, or object) is dropped from the aircraft during flight; that the flight will be safe; that they can maintain visual contact with the drone at all times; that they have obtained a license from the CAA to perform commercial drone flights.
  • Article 94A – Small Unmanned Aircraft; Height Restrictions on Flights
    The drone must not be flown above 400ft from the ground at any point.

If a survey will be taking place near an aerodrome or restricted flight area, it may not be possible to utilise drone technology. Sometimes, though, the CAA may issue a permit for a singular flight in these restricted areas if there is no other way to complete the survey.

Drone surveys from Landform Surveys

At Landform, we believe that integrating new technologies into our existing workflow helps us deliver an even better service to our clients.

If you think your land survey would benefit from drone inclusion, or you want to know more about how we use drones to optimise the collection of your data, get in touch with a member of our team today.