CAA provide a guide to BVLOS UK Drone Pilots

In a groundbreaking move aimed at assisting the UK in leading the way in unmanned aviation, the CAA have published the first guide on making BVLOS drone flights part of everyday life.

It’s widely acknowledged that BVLOS legislation and technology holds the key to unlocking much of the drone’s commercial potential.  It enables the much talked about possibility of drone deliveries, long distance infrastructure surveys as well as remote surveillance at incidents or accidents to aid the emergency services.  The head of the CAA’s Innovation Team, David Tait, is working hard alongside a number of other innovators to make BVLOS in unsegregated airspace a reality.

The guide first acknowledges that operational and technological mitigations are not yet sufficient to introduce BVLOS as a mater of course today. It also notes that segregation is not likely to offer a complete solution.

EVLOS can allow remote pilots to extend their range by an additional 500m through using deployed observers who can directly communicate any issues to the pilot.  This can mean many businesses can operate successfully under these permissions.  however, true drone freedom, BVLOS, has to be the goal of the earning potential of UAVs is to be realised.

They present three options for the successful introduction of BVLOS flights.

  1. Prove that operation poses no aviation threat
  2. Demonstrate a technical ‘see and avoid’ capability
  3. Operate in segregated airspace

Whilst airspace segregation does exist int eh form of a Temporary Danger Area (TDA), this isn’t seen as providing a long term solution. Therefore, the key to success is to create a technological ‘see and avoid’ solution to allow operations in no-segregated space.  Any such solution must encompass…

  • Terrain and obstacles
  • Hazardous meteorological conditions
  • Conflicting traffic
  • Ground operations
  • Any other airborne hazards

When operating outside of the range of the remote pilot’s eyesight, the UAS itself must be able to detect the hazard, create separation and perform a collision avoidance action.  The Innovation Hub is currently working to create what they are calling a ‘detect and avoid ecosystem’ by combining a set of collaborative systems as there is no seen to be a single ‘black box’ solution available in the short to medium term. It’s expected that four categories of technology will combine to provide a BVLOS safety case.

  1. Ground based infrastructure
  2. Electronic identification and conspicuity
  3. On board detect and avoid equipment
  4. Unmanned traffic management

The eventual goal of all of this work is to move BVLOS operations away from operating as an exemption to a routine approvals process as part of a ‘business as usual’ approach.  We at NDN Headquarters will certainly be watching developments with interest.