What is a drone?

There are various terms used to describe a drone. These include Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). They come in various sizes from very small hand held to full scale military aircraft.

Drones are starting to play a greater role in day to day life, this is partially because they carry a high specification camera which is stabilised using a three-axis gimbal.

SkyeServe currently operates drones with four motors, known as quadcopters, that fit within the under 20 kilogram category outlined by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) within the United Kingdom.

Do you need a licence to fly a drone?

To operate a drone professionally within the 'Specific Category' within the United Kingdom, an Operational Authorisation has to be granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

To be awarded an Operational Authorisation, formerly a Permission for Commercial Operations, there are strict criteria. This involves a significant amount of theoretical study and training before taking a written examination. Following this, a practical flying examination must be carried out whereby flight competency skills have to be demonstrated.

SkyeServe has been awarded an Operational Authoration and is fully authorised to undertake work within the United Kingdom.

Where can you fly and at what distances?

First of all, the permission of the landowner is required for the location where the drone will be taking off and landing in addition to where it will be operated from.

Current regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK allows the holder of a PfCO to fly up to a maximum altitude of 400 feet from the takeoff location and up to 500 metres horizontally.

The drone must be kept within Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) at all times.

There are further regulations set out by the CAA:

  • The drone must be kept at a minimum distance of 50 metres from people, structures and vehicles that are not under the control of the pilot of the drone.
  • A drone must not be operated over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons.

SkyeServe can operate in urban areas due to operations being conducted using drones under 7 kilograms providing risk assessments are carried out and mitigations are in place.

The final decision on whether a flight operation can be carried out rests with our pilot.

What is the maximum flight duration of a drone?

A flight time of up to 20 minutes is possible on one battery. However, numerous batteries can be utilised whilst on site due to the ability for them to be easily changed. This ensures that all the data required can be captured and without needless delays.

What weather can drones operate in?

The weather is crucial within the aviation industry. We cannot and will not fly in rain. Although we can fly in winds of up to 20 miles per hour, it is recommended a maximum of 15 miles per hour to ensure flight stability and to capture the best images and data as possible.

We currently fly when temperatures sit between 0-40 degrees Celcius.

No assurances can be made for inclement weather.

How many people are needed to operate a drone?

This is totally dependent on the nature of the job and the surrounding areas. Some operations will be conducted using a sole remote pilot where as others will require observers to ensure the safety of the flight. When operating at night we will look to use additional ground crew where necessary.

Are drone flights insured?

All our flights are fully insured. All equipment used is kept in the best possible condition, with regular maintenance and meets all legal requirements. The number one aim is to operate safely.

Can you fly indoors?

Yes, we can fly indoors however we need plenty of space, large warehouses are ideal. Although there may be an element of noise generated by the drone, they are battery powered with electric motors so there is no risk of pollution.

When flying indoors the dynamics are different and the materials used when constructing the building can have an impact on how the drone performs. In some cases, it may be necessary to conduct a short test flight to determine a final answer.

Can we review action live from the ground as the flight is taking place?

Yes. Data is fed back from the drone to the ground live, this allows for on the spot decision making.

Input is encouraged to get the best images possible for your needs. For example, if we are to carry out an aerial inspection and there is a particular concern with a roof or a hard to access part of an asset, the first-hand knowledge and input in to the particular areas will assist our pilot in collating the best selection of images possible.

How much does it cost?

Each flight is different, our rates vary on the complexity and associated risks with the area. Before issuing a quote, we will carry out a free of charge preflight survey to determine the feasibility of the flight.

What drones do you operate?

We mainly operate the DJI Phantom 4 Pro + V2.0 for commercial projects, it has a 20MP camera capable of capturing RAW format images and is also capable of capturing video in Full HD or 4K. We also have a DJI Mavic Pro in our fleet fitted with a 12MP camera.​ We are always looking to expand our range of services, with this comes new features such as thermal imaging which we will be looking to offer shortly. If you are interested in this, please get in touch.