Full NAS Integration And The New False Hope

Drone airspace integration and what not to do if you want a thriving industry.

When I was in China speaking at the World UAV Federation symposium, I said, “Whatever you do, do not emulate the U.S. airspace integration effort, unless you are not interested in making money.” It took about ten or so seconds to get translated, and uproarious laughter ensued. Most of it wasn’t meant to be a joke except for the “making money” part because they already knew they were killing it with consumer drones. Military drones are up and coming, but no one likes to admit that reality.

It had dawned on me that several of my last stories were incomplete, as the history lessons didn’t include a retelling of the thriving drone industry before the FAA’s arbitrary policy clarification of 2007. This flourishing commercial drone industry included all of the new applications we have now, including ag, movies, TV, law enforcement, SAR scientific research, NASA flight sciences, volcano monitoring, endangered species, weather, climate change, construction, real estate, mining, and ranching. So yes, the cows coming home is covered as well as Tad McGeer and Andy von Flotow’s transatlantic flight in 1998 with Aerosonde! All of that was being done with commercial third-party liability insurance—flying BVLOS, over people, at night, and in controlled airspace, including Class B if you called the tower, and all blessed by the ATO in D.C. We’re not talking about working with selfie-drones here either; we are talking about aircraft with 14’ wingspans, 35’ blimps, Ravens, and ScanEagles. Yes, we even had some of the same problems making the DAAS® concept scale than as we do now. #noway

After February 13, 2007, this was just a rumour. Maybe this, like many of the industry follies, is just buried and ignored, and folks hope you won’t remember them as the expert making balloon animals while the integration effort went Petrified Forest. There was a huge leadership vacuum, as all the advocacy the AUVSI could muster for the U.S. industry was a “Don’t Say Drone” hashtag, and what about my husband’s consulting contract? Remember that when those clowns pass the shoe for membership dues to pay Wild Turkey’s $400k a year good money after bad salary. Some of these parlor tricksters are still lurking in the shadows (salaried) if you know where to look.

Before 2007 you had to have some level of expertise to be part of the integration process. I’d say the delineation was at the end of the UAPO days when the nomenclature changed, as did the rock star status when the moneyed companies took notice and lobbied their way into the process. The devolution of expertise was part of the “there is no way we’re not going to make the September 2015 NAS integration mandate” sideshow. Who remembers Gary’s light-hearted Miss-O’-Matic? I knew we were in real trouble when the MPAA (Motion Picture Association) rep insisted that movie industry drones were safe because they had GPS on them. I asked if they had any data to support her assertions and she got up and said, “I’m not on trial here” and stormed out of the room.

Now, little more than a visit to the drone aisle at Best Buy and some VC money qualifies you as an SME for an FAA- or NASA-sponsored integration committee. So what if you didn’t know about flight services last year! No worries amigo: you are the new ATC #UTM expert. So what if your company didn’t have paying customers two years ago! Last year you were acquired by a fortune 500, and now you’re embedded with NASA as the UAM expert, baby! Golly, why would anyone in his or her right mind do this? Simple: the low threshold for expertise ensures no hard questions from the peanut gallery or questions about why in the heck this process is taking so long or why we are wasting hundreds of millions in taxpayer’s money.

As an aside, all of the pre-2007 applications and more were being done with “hobby” grade parts and components. Lest we forget that around the same time Procerus had a hobby grade unicorn that could track and terminate not only moving ground targets but airborne targets as well. “The hobby has changed and needs to be reeled in,” is a cover story for folks looking to mandate up some customers for more VC investment. Or, then again, it’s just a hapless and bamboozled stakeholder parroting semi-plausible bureaucratic talking points thinking they are helping out. The only thing they are helping out with is creating more restriction and buying more time for government dysfunction.

Dronecloud Beta Launch – public beta

Running a drone operation is a complex business. Dronecloud is an easier way to manage and grow drone operations whilst engaging with clients and stakeholders. Expect a full launch towards the end of Q1 2019. In the meantime, drone operations of all sizes are welcome to register and help refine what is set to become the ‘go to platform for drone operations’ globally. Public beta now open on a 1st come, 1st served basis. To get involved, head to https://dronecloud.io/find-out-more or email [email protected]

Dronecloud is the first drone management platform to harmonise customer engagement with industry-leading drone compliance. A full end-to-end solution to manage the complex workflows involved in running internal and external drone teams, from client job commissioning and compliance through to flight planning and data delivery.

Designed for all sizes, types and complexity of drone operations, Dronecloud simplifies operations that are often suffering from disjointed and inefficient workflows such as:

    • Multiple subscriptions for different parts of the drone workflow with your and your client’s sensitive data flowing from point to point across the internet – who knows what is stored where… and by whom…
    • A mix of cloud-based and local systems supported by spreadsheets and emails. Avoiding misunderstandings and misalignment with clients is a constant battle
    • An inability for clients to track progress of multiple jobs in real-time.

Key features of Dronecloud.

      • Customer Job request and quoting – Engage customers, nail down requirements
      • Job Management for operators and clients – Keep track of your workload
      • Manage your fleet, teams and log flights – effortless admin
      • Manage Airspace and risk to the highest industry standards – stay compliant
      • Data hosting and visualisation – Share and collaborate securely
      • Data sensitivity and security built into the core – complete confidence for you and your customers
      • Building an ecosystem prepared for the future – BVLOS, real-time insurance, access to large supplier frameworks

Dronecloud are offering free benefits for joining their beta programme, to get involved head to: https://dronecloud.io/find-out-more or email [email protected]

State of Nevada Unmanned Aircraft System Test Site Selected for Milestone DOT / FAA UAS Traffic Management Pilot Program

On 14 January 2019, Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao addressed attendees to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 98th Annual Meeting on the future of Transportation. In her remarks, Secretary Chao highlighted the DOT / FAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) Pilot Program (UPP) awardees, which included the FAA-designated State of Nevada UAS Test Site.

The UPP is a milestone pilot program to safely integrate drones into the National Airspace System (NAS). Congress directs the coordination, collaboration, development, and publication of a UTM Research Plan and establishment of a UTM Pilot Program (UPP) through the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. The UPP includes the development and demonstration of enterprise services to support initial UTM operations. The innovative Nevada UPP concept is a Smart Silver State (S3) theme to advance the UTM and help the FAA evolve airspace procedures and processes.

“This UPP award is exciting for the state of Nevada, the City of Reno, and the City of Henderson,” said Governor Steve Sisolak. “Nevada’s key role in this endeavour is just one more example of what our state and communities have to offer in today’s most exciting, emerging technologies.”

“The State of Nevada is quickly becoming a focal point for the UAS industry,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. “Last year the City of Reno was selected to participate in the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, and now we are very honoured to have the opportunity to partner with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems as they conduct testing that will help develop processes for safe integration of drones into the National Airspace.”

“Our Nevada Team is very much looking forward to evolving and safely integrating aerial drones into the National Airspace System (NAS). The DOT/FAA UPP, initially launching in the City of Reno has the full support of the Reno Mayor and City Staff, is unlike any other FAA pilot to date, and is a major stepping stone for growing the Nevada and National UAS Industry. Our participating partners are the very best across the UAS Industry and each one brings an incredible capability to Nevada and we are looking to make the state the global location of choice for Smart Communities and Drone Technologies,” said Dr. Chris Walach, Executive/Senior Director of all FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Sites and Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.

This past year, Business Facilities magazine ranked Nevada second among states for its drone industry, with New York coming in first. “With additional State of Nevada capital investment in growing the Nevada Drone Industry, Nevada has a real chance at being number one not only nationally, but globally,” Walach said.

The Nevada UPP will focus on advanced airspace, drone, and sensor technology for safe drone airspace operations in an urban environment. The Nevada UAS Test Site proposal included over 20 Nevada-based, out of state Nevada Teammates, and international partners and will be demonstrated in the City of Reno with additional testing in the City of Henderson or Town of Laughlin, Nevada.

The Nevada (Smart Silver State) UPP partners include Fortune 50 companies and Nevada Teammates/Airspace developers including: AiRXOS a GE venture, ANRA Technologies, WhiteFox Defense, Iris Automation, Drone America, Praxis Aerospace Concepts International, Inc., UltiSat, Inc., AviSight, Deseret-UAS/USU, Telesis, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, the Cities of Reno and Henderson, Town of Laughlin, and international partners Unifly and Institute of Aviation, Warsaw (ILOT).

About the City of Reno: The City of Reno government’s mission is dedicated to creating a community that people are proud to call home. In order to achieve that purpose, the Reno City Council has established five key priorities: Thriving Downtown and University District, Vibrant Neighborhoods and Public Places, Well-Managed Growth, Strong Financial Condition, and Efficient and Dependable Business Environment. To learn more about the City of Reno, visit Reno.gov or call 775-334-INFO (4636).

About the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS): The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and FAA-designated Nevada Unmanned Aviation Test Site leads the growth of the Nevada Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) Industry through business teaming relationships, collaborating with primary research institutions on UAS research and development, and enhancing the Nevada UAS Industry knowledge base to attract new and permanent business and create jobs in the State of Nevada.Learn more at www.nias-uas.com.

AJS Support UK commercial operator trends 2013 – 2019

Alan Stevens – ALS Support

Over the last 11 years, AJS Support Ltd (AJSSL) has been following the developments and trends within the vast scope of the UK drone industry. This work is used in support of our customers who are looking strategically towards future delivery, optimisation or use of sUAS capabilities.

One of these areas that we monitor is the number of registered operators. Within this aspect, we see that there are a growing number of “commercial operator lists”. These are advertised as reference sources for service customers to identify professional and insured UK commercial small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (sUSA) operators. Most of these claim to to be the best, first or the leading source for potential customers requiring the services of a commercial sUSA operator to source. These are usually free to customers and subscribed to by operators paying to be a member and listed to generate leads.

AJSSL has chosen not to be listed on these lists, however, like all PFCO owners, we are listed on the UK CAA authoritative list of current holders of the CAA permission. This list is updated at least on a monthly basis, but recently it has been more frequently. This has a reference is CAP1361 – Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) operators holding a valid CAA permission. At the time of writing this post we are at List Version 74 dated 11 Jan 2019.

CAP1361 is published in pdf and provides a simple list of Company Name, PFCO ID# and expiry dates. This is in Company Name order and is not an ideal format for potential customers to identify a local provider.

Currently A Turnover Trickle

AJSSL has been tracking the UK CAA PFAW/PFCO List content since around November 2013. I was prompted to write this when I saw the list imported into the tracking tool and Dec 2018 / Jan 2019 is the first time I have noticed a drop in numbers of operators on the list. This is a point when the last UK CAA Permission For Commercial Operation (PFCO) ID is #8295 and there are some 4913 operators currently listed.

With each new list published, we have previously observed a steady increase in the quantity of operators on the list with new UK CAA PFCO IDs listed. Over the years, there has been a noticeable turnover of operators with quantities of operators no longer appearing on the list. See the graphic above. The key trend of the actual number of UK CAA PFCO Operators appearing on the list is the lower (Orange line). The blue line is tracking the highest PFCO ID# on each list.

Dec 2018 / Jan 2019 is the first time we have seen a fall in the quantity of operators on the list. Whilst the UK CAA are issuing new ID number on each list, the overall quantity of operators has dropped by a small amount.

Typically, we have seen an increase of on average 100 operators per month appearing on the CAP 1361 List throughout any year. This latest fall in the quantity of operators during Dec and Jan could simply be a seasonal blip. This could be due to any number of current uncertainties within UK at the moment, including the imminent changes in legislation.

So What …..

This latest reduction in numbers is only based on a very recent and short period. This instance is not necessarily an indication of a future sustained reduction or stagnation of drone commercial operators flying in the UK. It may be due to one or more of a number of reasons.

We are aware of an increasing number of operators that under the current UK CAA rules are using drones without permission as part of their business. With so many illegal operators undercutting PFCO operators, with minimal overheads of a fully approved operator; more are now contemplating taking their chances with operating without a PFCO.

This is only our current feeling and these are indeed interesting times. We will continue to monitor the turnover of operators in the UK and we look forward to seeing what 2019 brings to the commercial drone industry in the UK.

AJSSL are experienced professional aviation specialists and will always promote the safe and legal practical use of drones to all our commercial and recreational customers.

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DJI welcomes proposed rules for drone flights at night and over people in America

inUAVi’s Network Quality Sensor integrates well with the DJI Enterprise Matrice 600 drone. (CNW Group/Gap Wireless)

DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, welcomes the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposals announced today to help expand the use of drones in America and looks forward to a substantive discussion that balances the requirements of the proposed rules with the benefits they would achieve.

The new rules would allow professional drone pilots with proper training and equipment to routinely fly over people and at night, opening up many new productive uses for drone technology while maintaining a high level of safety. Those operations are now generally prohibited without a special waiver or exemption. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has issued 1,233 waivers for nighttime flight operations, and not a single accident has been reported from them.

“Drones prove every day that they belong in the sky doing important work for America, and everyone benefits when it is easier for professionals to safely fly over people and at night,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. “Drones have helped rescue more than 200 people from peril around the world, and drones help professionals do their work faster, safer, more efficiently and at a lower cost. Removing the barriers to routine night operations and flight over people will mean more benefits for more people.”

DJI is reviewing other elements of the 198-page proposed rulemaking document, including proposals designed to protect people from injury from drones flying overhead. The rules contemplate a performance-based standard for measuring safety, which allows manufacturers to develop creative ways to meet that standard. This approach appears to be based on recommendations in a report from an FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee that DJI participated in during 2016, although some details, such as the safety testing methodology, differ from the recommendations in the report and compel further study by industry stakeholders.

“We are pleased that the Department of Transportation recognizes the importance of allowing drones to do productive work over people and that they encourage manufacturers to develop creative ways to meet safety standards,” Schulman said. “We will review these proposed rules to evaluate how well they can be implemented in practice, and we intend to submit comments to help inform and support the agency’s work of ensuring that drones continue to reach their full beneficial potential.”

For additional information, please contact:

Adam Lisberg, DJI Corporate Communication Director, North America –[email protected]

Kittyhawk, Wing and AirMap Collaborate to Demonstrate Remote Identification

On December 17th, 2018 (the 115th anniversary of flight), Kittyhawk, Wing and AirMap all travelled to San Bruno, California, and demonstrated an implementation of an open source, network-based, remote identification solution called InterUSS.

I wanted to talk a little bit about why Kittyhawk felt it was so important to participate in this demonstration and why open source solutions are so important for industry collaboration moving forward.

What exactly did Kittyhawk, Wing and AirMap demonstrate?

First, all three UAS got approvals to fly in controlled airspace via LAANC. Then, all three UAS Service Suppliers (USS) simultaneously flew multiple drones in controlled airspace, and as users of their own platforms, chose to share real time telemetry, as well as basic ownership and mission information of the drone — demonstrating that Remote ID is possible today. This means that anyone in the area could use an app to see who is flying and a rough account of what mission they’re looking to complete — delivery, inspection, or otherwise. This is a key building block for future UTM, BVLOS, and even Urban Air Mobility (UAM).

What is InterUSS?

InterUSS is a project started by Wing to inform relevant third parties to identify drones operating near their current location. As a delivery service with a large amount of public exposure, Wing wanted to allow the public to see who was operating in their vicinity and what they were doing, and at the same time also protect the privacy of customers they were delivering to.

Since Kittyhawk powers some of the largest commercial operations in the country and the world, often in sensitive situations for large enterprises, Remote ID is top of mind for us as well as our customers. Too often we hear, “The first people our teams run into are law enforcement or concerned citizens, despite us having every credential and license to be operating there.”

InterUSS strongly aligns with Kittyhawk’s core values of transparency, inclusion, and interoperability. Walled gardens are not an approach that’s going to empower the full potential of drone operations in the United States. Demonstrating that multiple USS’ can share data in real time using an open source platform is paramount to informing future thinking and strategies for Remote ID rules and regulations.

Why is an open-source approach critical for Remote ID?

Open source software is a critical tool to creating interoperability and enabling the transparency that prevents bad actors from exploiting power consolidation when a single entity is in charge of a piece of software.

I often hear the argument that open-source software is less secure than its proprietary counterparts because you’re giving adversaries the exact source code you’re using. This is a hold-over fallacy from the days when the only entities that could afford to collaborate and develop secure software were large private companies and governments.

Today, the democratizing force of the internet lets large distributed teams seamlessly create software that meets or exceeds the highest standards of security. In fact, the encryption you use to talk to your bank, the web server powering that website, and the databases storing that data are likely all powered by open source software. One of the most secure operating systems on the planet gives away every line of the source code: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenBSD

The ability for multiple parties to scrutinize, collaborate, and work on solutions together without the overhead of office politics, bureaucracies and shipping schedules creates a level of security proprietary based software solutions would be hard pressed to meet.

Why is Remote ID a critical building block for the future?

Every day we drive around with license plates on our cars, N numbers on our aircraft and IMEI numbers on our smartphones. Alone, they don’t do much to identify us but when given to the proper entities, they provide valuable accountability about who is operating and owning what car, aircraft, or device.

We think that Wing’s InterUSS solution strikes a pragmatic balance between protecting the privacy of the operator and the concerns of the public.

Why does Kittyhawk favor network based Remote ID?

Ultimately, network-based remote identification provides the most opportunity for use by the public and relevant stakeholders. It doesn’t require any special hardware, it allows multiple parties to both consume and populate the data, and with the power of technologies like LTE and the forthcoming 5G, it will be readily accessible to the largest amount of people with the smallest amount of overhead.

What does all of this really mean in the big picture of commercial drone operations?

Remote ID is the first and more important piece of the next generation UTM. It let’s stakeholders from all sides make decisions faster and with better information.

Kittyhawk remains dedicated to a safe and secure National Airspace. We think that transparency, inclusion, and collaboration amongst not only USS but all stakeholders in the commercial drone industry are paramount to enabling progress.

Kittyhawk vows to continue collaborating, innovating and creating solutions that empower the commercial drone industry. Questions? Just ask. We look forward to providing pragmatic and open solutions to remote ID and many other challenges in the years to come.

https://kittyhawk.io

Aireon completes deployment of Iridium NEXT – Space based ADS-B

Aireon has announced a successful eighth and final launch and deployment of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation hosting the Aireon space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payloads. At 7:31 a.m. PST (15:31 UTC) on the 11th of January 2019 a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and placed the final 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into low earth orbit (LEO).

This launch brought the total number of Aireon payloads in orbit to 75 (66 operational payloads and 9 spares), completing the historic launch program and passing one of the last remaining milestones before Aireon ushers in a new era of global air traffic surveillance and aircraft tracking.

Aireon is the world’s first 100 per cent global air traffic surveillance system and is revolutionizing the way the world travels with space-based technology. Unlike existing aircraft surveillance and tracking infrastructure, the Aireon system uses space-based ADS-B technology, which enables the automatic and real-time collection of aircraft position data. The Aireon technology gives air traffic controllers and airlines a complete and comprehensive view of the entire sky, like never before. With this upgraded insight into the world’s flight paths, including those in remote and oceanic airspace, the entire industry will experience significant direct and indirect benefits such as, increased safety, more efficient flight routes, more accurate arrival and departure predictions, faster emergency response times, reduced aircraft separation, a decrease in CO2 emissions and more.

“Today we passed a major milestone on our journey to revolutionize air traffic surveillance and are just weeks away from a fully operational system,” said Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon. “Now that the launches are complete, final integration and testing of the recently launched payloads can commence, after which the world’s first, real-time, truly global view of air traffic will be a reality.” Thoma continued, “It’s difficult to contain the excitement until we are formally operational, especially since from a performance standpoint, our technology has far exceeded expectations. Many think this is the end of a journey, being the last Iridium NEXT launch, but for us, this is the beginning of a new way air traffic will be managed.”

Thus far, the Aireon system has out-performed all predictions and is processing more than 13 billion ADS-B messages per month, with that number expected to grow upon full deployment. Air traffic controllers rely on the best and most accurate surveillance data possible to separate aircraft, which is often achieved through multiple redundant layers. Aireon’s data will provide air traffic controllers with a fully redundant data feed that covers the entire airspace, increasing the availability and reliability of a critical component in air traffic management, with a positive impact on safety and efficiency. This will in turn, help improve flight optimization by eliminating gaps in fleet data reports, and ultimately enhance the overall safety, accuracy and efficiency of worldwide air travel.

“Aireon’s space-based ADS-B network is just what the aviation industry needs,” said Marion Blakey, former administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “During my time at the FAA, extensive work was done to promote ADS-B technology for global air traffic management efforts. Today’s successful launch is not only a victory for Aireon but for the aviation industry, as we are now one step closer to having a clear, accurate and complete picture of the world’s airspace, including over the oceans and remote areas.”

Blakey now serves on the Aireon U.S. Advisory Board alongside its chairman, The Honorable Norman Mineta and vice-chairman, Russ Chew.

A total of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites have been built, all of which have the Aireon payload onboard. There are now 75 satellites deployed, with nine serving as on-orbit spares and the remaining six as ground spares. This launch marks the completion of the Iridium NEXT launch campaign, successfully deploying the full Aireon system

https://aireon.com/

Seal count conducted by drone on the Farne Islands.

By James Willoughby

A drone has been used for the first time to successfully help count a colony of Atlantic grey seal pups, which have reached record high numbers.

Ritchie Southerton, of Ritchie Southerton Photography, turned to UAV specialist Heliguy to purchase a DJI Phantom 4 Pro for the important job on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast.

The count took place during November and the recently-published results make for extremely good reading – with the number of juveniles born at the beauty spot increasing by 50 per cent in five years.

With the help of the drone, National Trust rangers counted 2,602 seal pups this time around, compared to 1,740 in 2014. A large number of sand eels (the seals’ favourite food) and few predators are thought to be behind the increase in numbers.

Turning to drone technology for the count

For the first time, following a successful trial in 2017, rangers used a drone to help make the Farne Islands count more accurate and efficient and less stressful for the seals.

Ranger Thomas Hendry said: “The drone gave us an excellent view of the islands and from the clear images we could count the total numbers of seal pups on each island. As the footage was taken while we were spraying, we used the image counts to check against the numbers we got on the ground.

“It also allowed us to see onto the smaller islands which are more challenging to land in difficult sea conditions.”

Reflecting on the seal pup count, Ritchie – a commercial drone operator since early 2015 – said that the mission had gone well and reinforced just how useful the drone was in the survey.

“The drone, which was compact and easy to transport, helped with the accuracy of the count and it allowed me to fly over the seals and get close to them without disturbing them, which was less intrusive for them and safer for us – as the mother seals can get quite protective and are prone to chasing you.

“The drone also helped to save time – on the first day, the drone counted 200 more seals than what was achieved on foot.

“To help count the seals, we put a grid over the images the drone captured and counted the seal pups at the end of every day.”

Ritchie Southerton

One of the most impressive features of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is its camera, which has a 1” CMOS sensor and is capable of capturing 20MP stills and boasts aperture control and a mechanical shutter. There is also support for 60fps 4K footage.

Ritchie says he was suitably impressed with the standard of the camera, describing it as faultless.

Praising the Phantom 4 Pro further, Ritchie said: “Its compact size makes it so useful when working in harsh environments or from small boats, but you can still achieve amazing results with such a cost-effective platform.

“The Phantom 4 Pro was a perfect choice, due to its compact size, which makes it incredibly portable. It also has a very good camera with good battery life with 25-30 minutes of flying time and it worked faultlessly operating from a small boat and in damp conditions from staying on the islands for five weeks.”

In total, Ritchie conducted 71 flights over an 18-hour period, covering 189,742 metres and capturing 4,000 still images, helping to count just over 2,600 seal pups.

Great news for the Farne Islands

The news that the number of Atlantic grey seal pups on the Farne Islands have increased dramatically has been hailed as ‘a milestone’.

A flourishing population of seal pups is also a sign that the sea surrounding the Farne Islands is in good health. Several areas of the sea are protected and fishing has been limited.

The dedicated National Trust rangers, who live on the islands for nine months of the year, count the seals every four days in the autumn once the pupping season begins. They spray them regularly with a harmless dye during this time.

Ranger Thomas said: “A lack of predators and a plentiful supply of sand eels – which makes up about 70 per cent of the seals’ diet – has helped bolster our seal pup numbers.

“This new record for the grey-seal colony is certainly a milestone and could be good news for the health of our seas around the islands.

“Over the next few years, we will monitor the effect of a growing seal population and to manage the island habitats accordingly.”

The Rangers have also noticed that the seals have changed the place of their rookeries (breeding sites). Previously most of the pups were born on the islands of North and South Wamses, but now many seals try to breed on Brownsman and Staple islands, which offer better protection from storms and high seas.

Seal pup numbers have also hit record highs at Blakeney Point in Norfolk, where figures have reached 2,802 in this year’s count, compared to 2,000 in 2014.

Did you know?

Seal pups are born with bright white fluffy coats. Although they can swim at an early age they don’t normally leave the colony until they are two or three weeks old. This is when the seals shed their white coat and their dense waterproof fur has grown through.

There are around 300,000 grey seals in the world and half of them live in British and Irish waters. The grey seal is a protected sea mammal, so the increase in numbers at the Farne Islands, which is home to the UK’s largest seal colony, is good news for the global population.

Fire Rescue Experts to Headline Los Angeles UAS Disaster Conference Exploring Role of Drone Tech for Public Safety and Emergencies

DOWNEY, CA – Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – also known as “drones” – have continuously demonstrated incredible value assisting with disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, and volcanos. These catastrophic events have elevated the use of UAS technology beyond basic public safety and into an entirely new realm uniting stakeholders from government, industry, and academia all for a common purpose.

The inaugural UAS DRONES Disaster Conference (UASDISCON) Los Angeles is scheduled for the Columbia Memorial Space Center from March 7-8, 2019. The event will feature keynote speakers with vast expertise in using unmanned systems for fire rescue, emergency management, and public safety. Fire Chief Charles Werner (Ret.), Chairman of the National Council on Public Safety UAS, will kick off UASDISCON on Thursday, March 7, followed by Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District in California, presenting on Friday, March 8.

Werner, a nationally recognized expert in the use of UAS by first responders, will lead off the conference discussing the evolving role of drones by public safety agencies in everyday missions. The first day of UASDISCON-LA will discuss steps that government, industry, and academia should take to develop a drone program, and which types of missions the technology can be used for.

Day 2 of the UAS DRONES Disaster Conference | Los Angeles will begin with a presentation by Schapelhouman on how drones were used during the 2018 California wildfire season, followed by workshop panels that address how UAS are changing tactics surrounding disaster management. Led by Schapelhouman, Menlo Park Fire Protection District has been at the forefront of California fire rescue departments deploying UAS technology.

“The UAS DRONES Disaster Conference is different from all other types of unmanned aviation events,” says Christopher Todd, Executive Director of the Airborne International Response Team (AIRT) – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which is the primary beneficiary of the program. “The expertise that Chiefs Werner and Schapelhouman bring to UASDISCON is emblematic of the entire roster of presenters you will see during our two-day conference.”

Operated under the UAS DRONES brand, the conference will unite leaders, experts, and UAS operators for presentations, workshops, and live flight demonstrations of the latest UAS technology for disaster management. Expert insight, panel workshop discussions, and live flight demonstrations will all be geared toward helping public safety, emergency management, and industry professionals better understand and implement drones, the benefits they offer, and how to integrate the technology with other systems.

“The benefits that UAS can provide for public safety and emergency management operations are clearly evident,” says Schapelhouman. “Each time we deploy these systems we build our knowledge based use case applications. It is vital to share this information with other public safety professionals and stakeholders to help responders mitigate the impact of emergencies and disasters.”

Proceeds from the UAS DRONES Disaster Conference series will benefit the Airborne International Response Team (AIRT), a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides unmanned aviation and aerospace capabilities to help people prepare for, respond to, and recover from complex emergencies and major disasters.

Registration for the UAS DRONES Disaster Conference | Los Angeles is now open with special early bird ticket pricing available through January 31 or while supplies last. Attendees who register via LA.uasdrones.org will receive the special price of $245, representing $50 off the normal conference pass price $295.

Additional conference presenters will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on UAS DRONES Disaster Conference | Los Angeles, please visithttp://la.uasdrones.org or contact Martha Donato at [email protected]

LidarSwiss deliver to the Royal Thai Survey Department

The LidarSwiss Solutions GmbH crew under the lead of the CTO Robert Kletzli and CEO Dennis Menick successful delivered two LidarSwiss Micro Vux Long Range sensors to the Royal Thai Survey Department.

The LS Micros Vux LR flies under a Swissdrones SDO50 V2 and covers 8km x 3km at a speed of 15m/s at 400m AGL gathering 5-8 points m2 and 10cm RGB each flight.

LS Micro Vux is the next generation of LS Micro Vux, a product suitable for both corridor and area mapping.

Based on VUX-1LR, higher grade NovAtel IMU/GPS, and a 50mp camera, this system is lighter with longer range, it can be used to fly higher and covers more area on either a UAV and manned aircraft’s.

LS Micro Vux LR automatically collects highly accurate laser and image data via its onboard system controller.

It can produce DOMs, DEMs, DSMs and DTMs which may be further processed to produce 3D models for various industries.

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