heliguy course is over and this means Alex and I have embarked on the first steps to becoming proper drone pilots.
Personal I think today was quite slow, but I gather tomorrow will be a lot more work as tomorrow is mostly on air law. Today was covering principles of flight and aircraft knowledge, and quite a lot on Lithium Polymer battery safety (with scary videos).
So hopefully in tomorrow's post I can explain a tad more about what is allowed and what is not, and what will be allowed once we get our PFAW (Permission For Aerial Works).
The process to get there means this course and a theory test which we have to pass, then producing an operations manual, and then passing a practical test, and finally an application to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority). This week should complete the theory test part. We will need insurance as well.
One of the things we have to decide is what sort of aerial work we want to be able to do, and if we want to try and apply for some extended permissions rather than just the basics. The basics, for example, allow working outside 50m distance of people or property we do not control, but it seems there may be ways to apply for closer distances if we can present the risk assessments and mitigation in our operations manual. Hopefully we'll know more on that tomorrow as well. Other possible extended permissions are things like night flying, and flying beyond visual line of sight. I doubt we need to go for either of those to start with.
It seems the Phantom 4 is a good choice of drone - it is very capable with an excellent camera and a lot of safety features. It fits in the lowest weight category (≤7kg). There are other drones we could get, within that category, or go for the heavy lift (≤20kg). The only real concern expressed with using a Phantom 4 on commercial work was the customer perception issue (I could get one of them from Apple/Maplin, or my kid has one of those). Obviously the fact we have done a CAA course, passed tests, and got PFAW is what really matters, but customer perception can be an issue.
What would make a difference, if we wanted to do more work, such as in London, or over people, would be a hexacopter or octocopter which can survive a rotor failure. A quadrocopter like the Phantom 4 cannot. The CAA stuff is all about safety and mitigating risk.