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AAIB Operation Of Drones

Operation of drones under recreational rules

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Keiran Arnold23/06/2017 08:34:19
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Noticed this little snippet in the Air Accidents Investigation Branch Annual Safety Review 2016

"Under UK regulations, the AAIB is not classed as a commercial operator flying for reward so can operate drones at accident sites under the standard regulations for recreational users."

Whilst this seems to be within the spirit of the law, is this within the spirit of the law.

Matt Jones23/06/2017 09:03:56
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They're not in it for commercial gain ergo not commercial therefore allowed.

If an aerial view of an accident site could help to identify the sequence of events and what happened (and so helping to prevent future ones) why would you have an issue with it?

Former Member23/06/2017 09:21:29

[This posting has been removed]

Keiran Arnold23/06/2017 10:00:17
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My point is that it is not by any means recreational- whilst I agree that any means of assisting the AAIB is a good thing.

As the AAIB is a government organisation, the operators are being paid for their services, and as the end product is a government report then whilst the gain is not financial there certainly is commercial gain

Frank Skilbeck23/06/2017 11:53:33
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I agree by the same reckoning it's OK for Estate Agents to use drones to photo houses and Farmers to check their fields etc, providing they are not being paid specifically to do this work. They have opened up a can of worms here as to what defines recreational flying.

Robert Welford23/06/2017 12:16:44
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What is the situation for emergency services (Police and Fire Services)? Do they operate drones without commercial operators' licences? Clearly again not for commercial gain, but they are used professionally.

The point about commercial operators' licence is to ensure operators have appropriate knowledge about drone operation - assessment of risk and knowledge of airspace etc. AAIB guys will have this, but emergency servicers may not.

Denis Watkins23/06/2017 12:27:04
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Surely any "good press" from the authorities will illustrate this indispensable side of drone use

And may influence drone users to look at their possession in a different light,

Just maybe

Frank Skilbeck23/06/2017 13:28:42
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Posted by Robert Welford on 23/06/2017 12:16:44:

What is the situation for emergency services (Police and Fire Services)? Do they operate drones without commercial operators' licences? Clearly again not for commercial gain, but they are used professionally.

The point about commercial operators' licence is to ensure operators have appropriate knowledge about drone operation - assessment of risk and knowledge of airspace etc. AAIB guys will have this, but emergency servicers may not.

Didn't the police in Merseyside a few years ago have to stop using them because they didn't have a suitable license.

John Lee23/06/2017 13:38:22
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Here is a 26 page technical document presented at an International Conference of how & why the AAIB operate their drones. I'd venture to suggest that any further requirements are superfluous.

With regards to the Police here is the word from the CAA:

Police use of drones

The Police use of drones comes under civil aviation legislation and their operators work under the same safety criteria applied to commercial permission holders.

ANO Article 266 allows the CAA to exempt operators from, or to change, the normally applicable limitations. Exemptions may on occasion be granted in exceptional circumstances in the public interest and when there is no major departure from the normally-accepted level of risk. Due to their existing statutory powers, the Police already have the means to limit and control access at certain sites and events (accidents, cordons etc).

John Lee23/06/2017 13:52:12
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I've just done a search on the CAA Website & a number of local Fire Authorities are listed as commercial drone operators.

Keiran Arnold23/06/2017 13:57:35
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John,

the document linked is effectively reproduced in the Air Accidents Investigation Branch Annual Safety Review 2016, which includes the original statement regarding recreational use. Should the AAIB not adopt the police model for drone use?

Peter Miller23/06/2017 14:36:34
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That document was a fascinating read.

Guvnor23/06/2017 14:54:59
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The AAIB is a small, autonomous organisation, staffed by some of the most experienced engineers and pilots on the planet. I imaging that the CAA or whover gave them dispensation not to have to have a PfCO reallises they are hardly likely to be a risk to either the public or other airspace users....

John Lee23/06/2017 15:12:41
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Posted by Keiran Arnold on 23/06/2017 13:57:35:

John,

the document linked is effectively reproduced in the Air Accidents Investigation Branch Annual Safety Review 2016, which includes the original statement regarding recreational use. Should the AAIB not adopt the police model for drone use?

For me - No, they are not the police. They operate fully within the law & totally professionally. Nothing else is required.

Devcon129/06/2017 17:00:55
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Kind of linked into the subject, a positive story and maybe signposts to our shores.

BBC

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator29/06/2017 19:35:53
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When setting up UAV operations at the university, on advice from the CAA, we took the view that: even if a flight was for pure research purposes with no commercial aspect, the fact is that the pilot, an employee of the university, is undertaking the flight as part of their job. Therefore they are being paid for it - it therefore follows that there is indeed "valuable consideration" connected with the flight - you therefore need a permit.

I think the AAIB are in the same position effectively. I'm afraid I agree with the OP's implication that they are "playing fast and loose" a bit with the regs - which is I feel very disspointing in an organisation that should be setting an example I think. Getting a Permit involves a little work - but I'm sure that its well within the capability of the AAIB! Not doing so is, I feel, rather lazy. And advertising that you haven't done so is even more questionable!

BEB

PS BTW, the argument that they are very experienced and so the CAA "let them off", although very charming, is not a runner I'm afraid! On that basis British Airways are very experienced so let's let them off from complying with the law of the land as well! I don't think so somehow!

Guvnor29/06/2017 20:22:54
130 forum posts

"On that basis British Airways are very experienced so let's let them off from complying with the law of the land as well! I don't think so somehow!" What that ridiculous example has to do with this is a mystery to me...

Does anyone on here know what discussions took place between the AAIB and the CAA?

Do any AAIB operators have BMFA certificates? PPLs? ATPLs?

Many of these will absolve them of the training and test anyway.

The army has operators who get paid to operate small drones over war zones. They get paid to do it. Perhaps the should have a PfCO too?

Do I detect a hint of jealousy creeping in here?

I have a hard-earned PfCO.

I also don't see the need for them to have a PfCO. As I said above, the AAIB is a small, autonomous organisation, staffed by some of the most experienced engineers and pilots on the planet. Whover gave them dispensation not to have to have a PfCO reallises they are hardly likely to be a risk to either the public or other airspace users....

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator29/06/2017 23:41:33
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Allow me to explain!

1. Having a Permit, if what you do is for valuable consideration, is the law.

2. If you were to "exempt" someone from the necessity to have a permit on the grounds of their experience - which was the point you made above Guvnor - then the parallel I drew is relevant. All I am saying is if you exempt AAIB on grounds of experience why not exempt others on the basis of their experience?

Anyway - no one exempted them - they are claiming they fit under "recreational use" and thus don't need one! Somewhat disingenuously I think.

BTW - just to be accurate, yes holding PPL's or BMFA certs etc can exempt you from the test - it does not however exempt you from the need to hold a permit. All it does it change the route you use to get there.

BEB

Edited By Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator on 30/06/2017 00:47:30

Matt Jones30/06/2017 08:16:42
1186 forum posts
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Keiran, I'm still not clear why you're grinding this particular axe?

Guvnor30/06/2017 08:32:18
130 forum posts

"Anyway - no one exempted them - they are claiming they fit under "recreational use" and thus don't need one!"

How do you KNOW no one exempted them??!

It IS within the CAA's remit to apply exemptions.

From the CAA:

"The Air Navigation Order (ANO) requires operators to hold an appropriate approval or permission for certain activities and equipment.

Exemptions may be applied for and granted if the CAA is satisfied that an equivalent level of safety will be assured. Holders of approvals can also apply for a variation to any current approval or permission."

From the AAIB:

  1. Under UK regulations, the AAIB is not classed as a commercial operator flying for reward
    so can operate drones at accident sites under the standard regulations for recreational
    users.
  2. The AAIB operations manual lists flight limitations and training and currency requirements
    for our operators.

Nobody here KNOWS what discussions have taken place between the CAA and the AAIB. They obviously have an ops manual and a training regime in place.

I really can't see what the problem is...

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