Rob Thompson Chosen as Chairman of the Counter UAS (CUAS) Summit

The CUAS Coalition is excited to announce that our Co-Founder Rob Thompson has been chosen to be the Chairman of the Counter UAS USA Summit and will also be speaking on C-UAS Policy and Legislation: Protecting America’s Skies

Download the (Program Agenda)

Join Rob as he discusses:

  • Barriers to making the use of C-UAS equipment legal for local law enforcement
  • Using C-UAS equipment for homeland and civil defense against rogue drone operators
  • Creating policy, tactics and equipment to prevent future UAS threats.

This is a can’t miss three-day event which will bring together government, industry and academia to focus on emerging and innovative C-UAS technologies, such as directed energy weapons and EW measures as well as technologies to detect and identify drones in the battlefield.

Rob Thompson is the co-founder of Falcon Foundation, a 3rd generation commercial multi-engine pilot, Part 107 holder who also holds a Master of Science from James Madison University for his work in aviation system designs and technical & scientific writing.

Rob’s grandfather was a pioneer in aviation and started many aviation programs and systems such as the air helicopter program while at his position of Understudy Secretary of Defense head of Transportation for 6 administrations from Kennedy to Reagan.

Rob began his journey in unmanned aircraft systems in 2012 when working for one of the first UAS companies Advanced Aerials started in 1993 as a technical writer and aerospace consultant.

Rob recently founded Falcon Foundation UAS LLC with his partner Jeffrey Anders a 30-year veteran of Capitol Hill.

They launched the CUAS Coalition when they saw a need to help legislators and industry come together for the purpose of protecting civil assets from rogue drone operators. Recently Rob was accepted as a Technical SME for U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s CIPAC UAS Security working group adding expertise in UAS countermeasures.

New UK Drone Laws Limit All Flights To 120 Meters

uk drone laws limit all flights to 120 meters

The Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code regulate all drone flights in the United Kingdom, commercial or otherwise. On July 30th, 2018, the CAA updated the drone code with new limits on flights. It is now against the law to fly any unmanned aerial vehicle in the UK higher than 120 meters (400 feet) in the air, or to fly within 1 kilometer of an airport or airfield boundary.

The new laws were first announced in May and were put in place as a response to a year-on-year increase in the number of drone incidents with aircraft, which cause damage to windows and engines of airplanes and helicopters. There were 93 such incidents in 2017 alone, as shown in new research published by the CAA in order to support the new law. The research also showed that 77 percent of all UK citizens and 75 percent of drone pilots felt more regulation of drone usage was required prior to these new laws. Over 2,000 adult citizens of the UK and more than 350 drone users were questioned for the study.

new drone laws in uk 1

The Drone Code summarizes the new restrictions on drone flights with the following acronym:

D – Don’t fly near airports or airfields

R – Remember to stay below 400 feet (120 meters)

O – Observe your drone at all times – stay 150 feet (50 meters) away from people and property

N – Never fly near aircraft

E – Enjoy responsibly

Anyone caught failing to follow the Drone Code requirements, including the new laws, could be charged with “recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or a person in an aircraft.” This criminal charge could be punished by an unlimited fine, a penalty of up to five years in prison, or both. So all of our UK dronethusiasts should be extra sure not to break these new laws or any of the existing CAA requirements for drone flights!

For our part, we at Dronethusiast think the new laws are fair and reasonable. We’re based in the US, where the 400 foot maximum height has been in place since 2014. And the American airport requirements are even more strict, requiring pilots to stay about 8 kilometers (5 miles to be exact) from an airport while flying a drone.

However, these laws are most likely only the start of a concerted effort to crack down on drone use in the United Kingdom. Beginning next year On November 30th, 2019, all drones weighing 250 grams or more will have to be registered with the CAA. Part of the registration process will include taking a free online safety test.

Parliament is also working on a full drone bill which was originally scheduled for spring of this year but which has been delayed. The height and airport regulations were originally intended to be part of this bill, but were pushed forward via an amendment the 2016 Air Navigation Order because of the immediate risk presented to airplanes and helicopters. The final drone bill may include age restrictions that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from using a drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds.

drone laws in the uk

While next year’s new registration requirement sounds like it would be similar to drone registration here in the United States, the age limit is something new.

What do you think, readers? Do the new drone laws make sense? Are you concerned about government overreach? Or do you agree with the 75 percent of UK pilots who feel that more regulation is necessary at this time? Let us know what you think in the comments of this article.

The Winners Of The 2018 Drone Photography Awards Are Here

2018 drone photography award winners

Drone photography is more popular than ever. There’s two reasons for this. The first is that drones are more widely accessible than they’ve been at any point in history – anyone can find a cheap drone and start learning how to fly and take photos. And the second is that the technology has advanced to the point that drone shots can now compete directly with helicopter photography – and in many cases, even surpass it.

To celebrate the achievements of these budding drone photographers, the 2018 Drone Awards, organized by a non-profit organization called Art World Travel, have chosen what they consider the seven best drone photos of the year. More than 4,400 submissions were sent in by amateur and professional photographers alike from 101 countries, so the competition was stiff. The winners were chosen by a trio of judges looking at composition, use of color, and many other factors.

2018 drone photography awards winner

The 2018 grand prize winner, pictured above, is simply titled Above The Polar Bear and was taken by Florian Ledoux using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Above The Polar Bear was taken in Nunavut, Canada while Ledoux was working on a wildlife report in the area and shows a polar bear crossing from one piece of ice to another. The colors here are incredible – the bear’s fur appears almost golden in the light of the Northern sun and it contrasts beautifully with the nearly-frozen pale blue water.

It’s a beautiful moment in time captured by a true professional, and Ledoux admits that “This, by far, is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” However, he hopes to use the beauty of the image to shine a light on a very ugly problem: “Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform for hunting. [They] are facing a range of threats that are impacting their future population status. They are among the first refugees of climate change. The most striking observation during my reportage was the obvious lack of pack ice.”

Suddenly the overwhelming presence of the water in the photo and the polar bear’s reach as it jumps from one patch of thin ice to another takes on a powerful new importance. Ledoux adds: “I hope that future generations will still be able to witness the beauty and grandeur of the Arctic wildlife the same way we do today.”

2018 drone photography awards best abstract photo

Another one of our favorites is the winner in the “Best Abstract Photo” category – Weather Snake by Romanian photographer Ovi D. Pop. This striking image is made of two different photos carefully composited together and depicts a road that winds through different elevations in a forest near Pop’s home of Derna, Bihor County, Romania.

One of my favorite details in this photo is the way that the snow-covered tree branches dangling over the road on the left side of the photo look like snowflakes, or perhaps cracked ice. It’s a neat perspective trick, as is the way that the trees on both sides all appear to be angled so that they point towards the center of the image. We couldn’t find the exact drone used for this photo, but it’s presumably something with a fisheye lens – possibly a DJI Mavic Pro or a Parrot Bebop 2.

2018 drone photography awards skating shadows

The third winner we’d like to highlight in this article is Skating Shadows, the Sports category winner which was taken by Dutch sports photographer Vincent Riemersma. The image captures a group of twenty-six skaters from above as they race over the ice. The top half of the photo is a bit dull, although the line between the track and the extra ice cuts a nice line through the center of the photo, but the shadows themselves are hypnotizing. They look a bit like Hebrew letters, or perhaps exaggerated cartoons of long-legged men and women, half-bent like something not of this Earth. And with the way that the shadows appear to be standing upright even though the photo is a bird’s eye view shot, this a truly mind-boggling photo that only gets better the longer you look at it.

You can see all seven winners as well as the runners up in each category by clicking here. And let us know in the comments: do you think these seven photographs deserved to win? Or are some of the runners up more deserving of the 2018 Drone Photography Awards?

Flock – What you need to know about the new UK drone laws

New drone laws have come into force as part of the UK Government’s effort to improve aviation safety. In this post, we highlight the important changes you need to know about.

As of Monday 30th July 2018, new drone safety restrictions came into effect in the UK. These changes have been implemented by the Government as part of an amendment to the 2016 Air Navigation order.

To guide you through the changes, we have summarised our interpretation of the new laws below. We also walk you through how you can use the Flock Cover app to check how safe your flight is before take-off.

What are the new laws?

1. It is a criminal offence to fly your drone within 1 km of airport boundaries

If you want to fly within 1km of a licenced airfield (be it an airport or a military airfield) at any height, you will have to get special permission from the air traffic control, or the CAA. This law applies to all drones, regardless of their mass.

2. It is against the law to fly your drone above 400ft (120m)

Unless you have an exemption from the CAA, you must not fly your drone more than 400ft above the ground. The distance is measured from the height you take off from, whether this is from the top of a hill, or in a valley. If you are flying over a cliff edge or a tall building and there is more than 400ft between the ground and your drone, you will need to obtain an exemption.

What happens if I break the laws?

If you’re found breaking the new restrictions you could face up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. Breaking these laws could open yourself up to being charged with ‘recklessly endangering an aircraft, or a person in an aircraft’ , which comes with severe consequences.

How can the Flock Cover app help?

You can use Flock Cover as a safety tool and receive a real-time risk-report for your drone flight in seconds. All you have to do is enter your flight location in the app, and you’ll be instantly alerted to nearby airports, heliports, military airbases (and more!). By analysing real-time data in your Flight Area, Flock will inform you of temporary restrictions of airspace, which are put in place when events such as football matches are taking place.

The Flock Cover app analyses where you are flying in order to alert you to surrounding risks.

Additional changes PfCO holders should note..

In addition to the new drone laws, if you are a commercial pilot there are a few additional changes you should familiarise yourself with…

1. The terms SUA Operator and Remote Pilot

There are now two new terms: SUA Operator (the person managing the drone) and Remote Pilot (the person flying the drone). Previously in your Ops manual, you may have referred to the latter as the ‘Person in Control’.

If you’re a sole trader, then both terms would apply to you simultaneously. The distinction between the two is more clearly illustrated when considering a scenario which may be more typical of a larger organisation, where the SUA Operator (who is also probably the PfCO holder) would prepare the flight, and then provide instructions to the remote pilot on where they are required to fly for that job. What the new terminology does is make it clear that responsibilities for safety are shared between both the remote pilot and the SUA Operator.

2. Changes to PfCO drone classifications

It used to be that if you were flying a drone above 7kg, you would have to sit a separate Heavy Lift qualification. Now, there are now only two classes of drone on the standard PfCO:

  1. 0–20kg multirotor
  2. 0–20kg fixed wing

Need further information?

If you need any clarification of the points written here, you can contact the Flock team through the instant chat on our website, or in the Flock Cover app (available on iOS and Android). We typically respond within 2 minutes, and will be happy to help!

You can also read the CAA’s official guide in regards to the ANO amendments here, and their explanation regarding PfCO amendments here.

We hope this has been a useful guide, and as always, safe flying!

QuestUAV Survey Ilkley Moor Using Fixed Wing Drone

RGB Land Survey of Ilkley Moor using 8000+ Images to create 650-hectare point cloud and orthoimage

QuestUAV Ltd was commissioned jointly by Friends of Ilkley Moor and Bradford Council Countryside Service to undertake an orthographic survey of the Ilkley Moors in the UK. The area of the Moor was an approximately 650-hectare survey and QuestUAV used one of their Datahawk PPK fixed-wing drones, equipped with a Sony RX100 RGB.

In ideal flying conditions and taking 11 hours to complete, the drone crisscrossed the moor 80 times covering almost 100 miles and taking over 8,000 overlapping digital photographs. QuestUAVs Pilots said that the moor was the largest area they had ever flown in a single day. The photos will be ‘stitched’ together to make both full vertical and 3D images of the moor.

Commissioned and funded jointly by Friends of Ilkley Moor and Bradford Council Countryside Service the survey is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Big Ilkley Moor Survey managed by the Friends of Ilkley Moor.

Ian Condliffe of the Friends said that the photography will help create a baseline map of main habitats and vegetation types on the moor, focussing particularly on the wetter areas. He added: “The high resolution of the photos and digital technology available these days will allow us to look at the photos using different light wavebands which will help identify and map the many smaller watercourses and footpaths on the moor. We also hope that computer software will enable young trees to be identified, mapped and counted automatically so that we can monitor what appears to be a growing number of trees on the moor’s lower slopes.”

QuestUAV are highly experienced and qualified drone services providers. For more information click on the link


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