The CAA defines a drone as an Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) or Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA). The most common drones are quadcopters (with four rotors) but they can also have six or eight rotors when larger payloads are required. Fixed wing drones are also available and tend to look more like conventional aircraft. You can control a drone “manually’ (albeit with a high level of automation) or set it to fly on its own following a set flight plan using waypoints.
It varies. A toy drone can cost as little as £20, but more advanced drones with features such as GPS start at £500 for consumer models. Professional drones can cost anything between £2,000 and £35,000 and military spec drones cost as much as £90,000.
Once the preserve of the military, drones have found their way into the consumer and commercial sectors thanks to smartphone technology and reduced costs. They’re used for many tasks, most commonly aerial photography and videography, but emerging applications include surveying, inspection, agriculture and surveillance. The global drone market is estimated to reach $22 billion by 2022.
Yes. Sophisticated electronics and features such as GPS positioning can hold an aircraft in a fixed position which make drones easy to operate. However, this ease of use has given rise to safety issues with countless media stories of users flying drones in a dangerous manner. One of our missions at HALO is to improve current standards of competency and training for drone pilots.
There’s no such thing as a drone licence. However, when you receive payment of any kind for flying a drone, you’ll need a Permission for Commercial Operations (PFCO) from the Civil Aviation Authority. You don’t need a permission to fly a drone for fun but the regulations do still apply to you.
Most modern drones can fly several hundred feet high and many miles away from the pilot. However, in the UK a recreational user may legally only fly a drone as far as they can see it well enough to keep it safely separated from other people, property or vehicles and aircraft. For commercial use, this is clarified as no more than 400ft high (120m), and 500m horizontally.
There are many considerations but crucially, you must not fly within 50m of people, property or vehicles and not within 150m of crowds and built up areas. Pilots with commercial objectives can have these limitations reduced by obtaining a PfCO.
In order to apply for a PfCO, you need to demonstrate that you are able to safely operate a drone in accordance with guidelines set by the CAA.
HALO Drones is a fully approved National Qualified Entity (NQE) which allows us to provide training and assessment in order to make a recommendation for a PfCO on behalf of the applicant.
In order for HALO to provide a recommendation for a PfCO, an individual must complete our Foundation Certificate in Commercial Drone Operations (FCCDO) course.
Not necessarily. It depends on the purpose of the flight. You can fly recreationally if you adhere to the standard regulations. However, if you fly for compensation and / or reward you’ll be flying commercially.
Most modern drones (except the cheap toy models) have various GPS features. If the signal stops, the drone will return to its take off point and land by itself.
Many higher specification drones can fly their own missions if the pilot sets a series of waypoints for them to follow. The pilot can track the progress and see the direct video feed from the ground control station.
Basic recreational drones will fly for less than 10 minutes. More expensive drones can typically fly for 15-30 minutes depending on factors such as battery capacity, payload weight and the weather.