I attended an all-day seminar this week organised by Dronesafe Register, our professional drone pilot official body who represent us.
Here’s a link to Dronesafe Register’s article about the day which is worth a read.
We met the senior police officer who is responsible for Gatwick. He had to deal with that nightmarish 30 hour lockdown just before last Christmas. It grounded 130,000 customers and cost an estimated £50 million due to alleged multiple drone incursions.
At the time he had no defences against drones. He has 10 police drone operators on call now. We said he would be welcome to call on our organisation at any time which he thought might be useful.
Defence systems don’t work
Amazingly there still isn’t a system which can effectively protect airports anywhere in the world. There are some which claim they can, like the DJI system, but they don’t work.
We believe the Gatwick incident set the professional drone industry back a year.
The venue was the Gatwick Airport Museum, which was full of aircraft from my father’s era of flying for the RAF. They included the Gloster Meteor and the air sea rescue Shackleton both of which he flew.
In addition to the police, we listened to presentations by the CAA. They control our industry and issue our permission to fly which is called a PfCO. It is like qualifying as a commercial pilot and isn’t cheap or easy.
Apart from improving your knowledge and awareness in a significant way, it makes you legal. This is something many people earning money flying drones are either not aware of or to choose to ignore.
If you are caught accepting payment of any kind without a PfCO and proper insurance, you are in trouble as it constitutes a criminal offence. The training also stops people from behaving stupidly and irresponsibly, often out of ignorance.
A different proposition
Professional drone pilots are a very different proposition to some of the Herberts who get their hands on a drone and use it as a dangerous toy. Recreational flying somewhere it is allowed is fine. Annoying other people or endangering yourself, other people or property is not.
A Professional CAA qualified drone pilot will first of all be good at flying. They will plan in advance, obtain the right permissions, notify relevant bodies, write a Risk Assessment, a Pre Site Survey, an On Site Survey and brief everyone involved thoroughly.
We are taught to deal with emergencies and what to do afterwards in the unlikely event one might occur. Every pilot carries safety equipment like a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and a safety blanket for electrical fires.
So it’s not just a question of rocking up and letting rip. Although when one of the 130,000 amateurs in the UK gets going it can seem like that.
Later this year the CAA is introducing a compulsory registration database. Everyone who owns a drone or purchases one will be required to pay a fee and sit a simple online knowledge test.
Failure to comply will be an offence. Do you think that”s a good idea or another attack on freedom? It certainly gets my vote. I would take it further to insist everyone has insurance.
#dronesaferegister #dsr #drone #gatwickairport #gatwickaviationmuseum