The 10 golden rules to flying a drone safely

The pre-Christmas chaos at Gatwick Airport well and truly threw the spotlight on drones … and the severe disruption and danger they can cause if misused.

One of the top drone training companies in the UK is Yorkshire-based Flyby Technology (, recognised experts within the industry who gave informed, expert comment to national and international media on drones during the Gatwick crisis. Its trainers have more than 600 YEARS flying experience between them.

Most of the trainers are former RAF fighter pilots and the chief examiner, Jon Parker, has drawn up a list for drone operators 10 golden rules to follow in the wake of the Gatwick incident.

He said: “Many people may have received drones for Christmas and it’s vital they follow these safety rules to make sure they operate them in a safe manner.

“As you’ll see, whoever used drones at Gatwick Airport deliberately flouted several of these rules.”

Endangering the safety of an aircraft is a criminal offence which can lead to a prison sentence of up to five years.

The Government passed legislation earlier this year making it illegal to fly a drone within 1km of an airport or airfield boundary in the UK.

Flying higher than 400ft is also banned as it increases the risk of an accident with a manned aircraft. Anyone who breaks these rules faces unlimited fines and/or up to five years in jail.

The 10 tips are:

1. No flight above 400ft from the surface.

2. No flight within 150m of a congested area.

3. No flight with 50m of people, property, vehicles or vessels not under their control.

4. No flight further than 500m from the operator.

5. No person inside 30m on take-off and landing except the drone pilot or people under the pilot’s control.

6. No flight inside 1km of the boundary of an aerodrome without permission.

7. No drone weighing 7kg (15lbs) or greater to fly in controlled airspace without permission.

8. Never fly unless you are satisfied the flight is safe to be made and always check the weather frequently throughout the day.

9. Always check the controls for the drone are working perfectly before every flight … even after a short break such as to change its battery.

10. Only look at the screen on the controller to frame a shot or to check how much power the battery has remaining. Flying the drone by looking at the screen is bad practice. You should be looking at your drone and scanning for incursions by aircraft 99% of the time. Flyby Technology call the screen the ‘face magnet’ for good reason. Lifting your head is lifting safety.

Flyby Technology ( is based in York but holds drone flying courses nationwide.

Samsung’s 16th drone patent

A grown-up is going to have to explain to me how companies, particularly Amazon in our space manage to receive patents for things that have prior art anyhooo.

It does seem obvious to bundle a drone with a high-end smartphone but wonder why you would not simply partner with DJI and make a Samsung Mavic or Spark special edition. Very steep mountain to climb to not only match but better the performance of the incumbent. Just ask GoPro.

Business Korea has the number of patents at 16 Others are saying less but either way, it’s more than one.

I am afraid I can’t get excited about multirotors. I am not a big DJI fanboy, but can’t see how the Mavic Air can be beaten at price and quality.

Objective Existentialism, Passive Nihilism, and Federal Rulemaking

All of them share a common thread of trying to make sense of the absurd, and suffering.

Many of the great philosophers—Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Kant, and even Camus—all boil to down to contemplating the existence of God, a sprinkling of misogyny, a pack of Gauloises, and learning to cope with regret.

I was on a call with a fellow that worked at one of the FAA test sites, and he mentioned that everyone is so upbeat on drones and that I appear to have a less than optimistic take on the current regulatory and business situation. I said I am not negative on the technology, as much as the regulatory dysfunction that has destroyed this industry: an artificial and arbitrary brake on the wheel of an innovative technology that held so much promise to change the world! Instead of the straight line, we are trapped on the regulatory Wheel of Samsara and without the forecasted $82 billion in wish-granting jewels.

Then it dawned on me that the drone stakeholder (aka bag-holder) is supposed to reconcile or accept that the United States of America was able to put a man on the moon nearly fifty years ago, yet the FAA has proven incapable of fully integrating a 251-gram drone in the National Airspace System after 25+ years. The Congressional mandate for the FAA to get the job done by September of 2015 came and went. Yes, it is a mind blower, especially when you factor in how many millions have been spent! If you think that is ugly, just wait till you figure out who the poor sap is that is going to be on the hook to pay!

Even the Black Hornet, at 33 grams AUW, is required to have a waiver to fly BVLOS. That is way under what the nitwits—err, um, I mean stakeholders—on the FAA drone registration task force determined to be unsafe. I don’t know how they would even be able to carry one of the parachutes from the company the FAA was pushing as the flyover people waiver solution. Incidentally, the very same company just recently announced that the former FAA Administrator is now on the Advisory Board. I’m sure it is only one big coincidence that folks who represent the interests of the American people at the FAA off-ramp to these same companies (#goldenparachute). I was thinking it was all scheduling conflicts, but maybe the way to get FAA personnel to come and educate the public at your drone show is to offer them an Advisory Board position at your company?

I had planned on listing some of the contributions I have made over the years so as not to just sound like a malcontent. However, I decided not to bore anyone with plausible solutions while those running the show decided they wanted to regulate everything over 250 grams. That includes toys purveyed at mall kiosks and gas stations without a relevant risk analysis. No worries; you’ll be picking up the tab on that one too. If that wasn’t bad enough, the new declared domain is between the blades of grass. To add to the burgeoning workload, they decided to increase the buffer around airports from three to five miles. That increase created an airspace waiver backlog problem that was alleviated with the rollout of the LAANC near real-time solution. Wait, what? Yeah, it appears that those RC hobbyists reprobates and their Sec. 336 exemption was the designated impediment to getting paid for LAANC services.

I know there are some of you who would say that increasing the airport buffer makes sense, and I might even agree if there was a good-faith enforcement effort. At this point, the FAA may want just to save a little face and roll out a voluntary compliance initiative before it looks like they just gave up on safety.

@TheDroneDealer on Twitter if you want the daily dose.

VINCI Airports to acquire the majority shareholding in London Gatwick Airport

VINCI Airports, a VINCI Concessions subsidiary, today signed an agreement to acquire from current shareholders an effective 50.01% stake in Gatwick Airport Limited, a freehold property airport. The transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2019. The other 49.99% will be managed by Global Infrastructure Partners.

VINCI Airports is pleased to partner with Global Infrastructure Partners and to benefit from its deep experience and expertise with the airport since 2009.

In the year ended 31 March 2018, Gatwick Airport Group reported total revenue of GBP 764.2 million, with EBITDA of GBP 411.2 million. After the closing, VINCI Airports will be able to fully consolidate the Gatwick Airport. The consideration payable for the 50.01% stake is approximately GBP2.9 billion, subject to closing adjustments.

The transaction represents a rare opportunity to acquire an airport of such size and quality and fits extremely well with VINCI Concessions’ long-term investment horizon. Gatwick Airport is an outstanding asset with further growth potential. This acquisition represents a major strategic move by VINCI Airports into a strongly performing airport located in a globally significant aviation market. Gatwick will become the largest single airport in VINCI Airports’ growing worldwide network.

Key strategic highlights include:

· Second largest airport in the UK: LGW is part of the largest O&D market in the world – London. The airports in the London system handled over 170 million passenger journeys in 2017. LGW is strategically located to the south of London as its second largest airport, handles over 46 million passengers per annum and serves 228 destinations in 74 countries. It has strong relationships with some leading airlines including EasyJet and British Airways, whilst building new relationships with carriers such as China Eastern.

· Most efficient airport in the world: LGW operates the busiest single runway in the world. In 2017, it hit a world record of 950 flights in a day. The airport constantly innovates in all areas of operations (for example passenger self-baggage drop, aircraft queuing systems, parking products) and reaches very high level of operational efficiency (for example high rates of passenger security screening)

· Opportunity for further capacity development: LGW has a draft master plan to accommodate growing demand for air traffic through best use of its existing runway, an innovative potential scheme to further utilise its standby runway.

· Freehold ownership structure: LGW is a freehold airport and such a perpetual property duration regime is extremely valuable for VINCI Airports as a long term strategic investor and operator

· Commercial opportunities: further opportunities exist to grow the commercial offering to passengers

Gatwick Airport has an impressive and highly experienced management team who will continue to manage the business and whom VINCI Airports is delighted to welcome to its global network.

Nicolas Notebaert, Chief Executive Officer of VINCI Concessions and President of VINCI Airports: “Creating synergies and sharing best practices being at the core of our values, the whole VINCI Airports network will benefit from Gatwick Airport’s world-class management and operational excellence, which has allowed it to deliver strong and steady growth in a very constrained environment. As Gatwick’s new industrial partner, VINCI Airports will support and encourage growth of traffic, operational efficiency and leverage its international expertise in the development of commercial activities to further improve passenger satisfaction and experience.

Register for the 2019 Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting and eVTOL Symposium


The 21st century has seen a continued emphasis on Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) and greater autonomy and automation for both military and civilian applications. Unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft are in varying stages of development all over the world, and continue to expand into the civil and military sectors for a variety of uses.

Autonomy is being used to unmanned versions of manned helicopters for dull, dirty and dangerous military cargo missions. In addition, the operator-interface and human factors can be one of the most significant contributions to UAS safety and successful operations. Correspondingly, technologies and regulation are being developed to safely operate UAS, and integrate them into commercial and military airspace.

Meanwhile, automation and various levels of autonomy are being used in modern civil helicopter cockpits, while the military’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft will need to be optionally-manned or optimally-manned. Autonomy is also a key enabler for new classes of vehicles for civil missions — such as personal air vehicles, urban air mobility and air taxi missions — using electric or hybrid-electric propulsion (eVTOL).

This biennial meeting is an excellent opportunity to learn about and discuss with academic, industry, and military engineers from around the world the latest advancements in manned/unmanned, electric/hybrid/turboshaft-powered, and civil/military autonomous VTOL aircraft technology.

The Technical Meeting is being held in conjunction with the 6th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium, which will be held in parallel. The conference will feature technical paper presentation related to autonomous VTOL aircraft, while the Symposium will feature invited presentations, panel sessions and discussions on electric and hybrid electric VTOL aircraft, with a focus on urban air mobility.

Plenary Presentations: Needs for Future Autonomous VTOL Aircraft [Tues. Jan. 29 – 8:00 AM to 12:00 noon]

Moderator: Dr. Ram JanakiRam, Boeing

  • “Autonomy for Next Generation VTOL Systems,” Dr. Bill Lewis, Aviation Development Director, US Army
  • “The Electric VTOL Revolution,” Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society
  • Mark Jordan, Boeing Autonomous Systems
  • “Army VTOL UAS Development Efforts,” LTC Mike Osmon, US Army, Aviation Development Directorate
  • “Agility, Cyber and Emerging Technologies for Naval UAS,” Dr. Robert Ernst, NAVAIR PMA-266
  • “NASA Research Supporting Vertical Flight and UAM,” Dr. Colin Theodore, NASA Ames
  • “Needs for the Uber Elevate Ecosystem,” Mark Moore, Uber

eVTOL Session 1: Progress in Electric VTOL[Tues. Jan. 29 – 1:30 to 3:30 PM]

Moderator: Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society

  • Bob Labelle, CEO, XTI Aircraft
  • Zach Lovering, Vahana Project Executive, A³ by Airbus
  • Ben Tigner, President, Karem Aircraft
  • Troy Rutherford, Senior Director for eVTOL, Boeing NeXt

eVTOL Session 2: Challenges in Electric VTOL [Tues. Jan. 29 – 4:00 to 5:30 PM]

Moderator: Chris Silva, NASA

  • “Observations from Exploration of VTOL Urban Air Mobility Designs,” Chris Silva, NASA Ames
  • “UAM Propulsion,” Dr. Paula Dempsey, NASA Glenn
  • “Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) Failure Modes,” Patrick Darmstadt, Boeing
  • “Gust Rejection,” Nick Brake, Emerical Systems Aerospace
  • “VTOL Flight Control for Safety,” Justin Paines, Chief Test Pilot, Joby Aviation

eVTOL Session 3: System Safety [Wed. Jan. 30 – 8:00 to 10:00 AM]

Moderator: Dan Newman, Boeing

  • Chris van Buiten, VP Innovations, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company
  • Starr Ginn, Deputy Aeronautics Research Director, NASA Armstrong
  • Kyle Heironimus, Innovation Engineer, Bell
  • Ife Ogunleye, Acting Manager, Policy and Regulation Section, FAA
  • Clément Audard, Rotorcraft Safety Coordinator, European Aviation Safety Agency

eVTOL Session 4: Standards/Regulations [Wed. Jan. 30 – 10:30 AM to 12:00 noon]

Moderator: Tom Gunnarson, Lead of Regulatory Affairs, Kitty Hawk

  • Anna Dietrich, Co-Founder, Terrafugia
  • Ajay Sehgal, Chief Engineer, KBRWyle
  • Dr. Mark D’Angelo, Aerospace Standards Engineer, SAE International
  • Greg Bowles, VP, Global Innovation & Policy, GAMA
  • Andy Supinie, Aircraft Certification Office, FAA

eVTOL Session 5: Vehicle Technologies [Wed. Jan. 30 – 1:30 to 3:30 PM]

Moderator: Johnny Doo, International Vehicle Research

  • “Hybrid Electric Propulsion System Advantages And Disadvantages Compared To All Electric Propulsion And All Traditional Engine-Driven Propulsion,” Eric Blumer, Director of Advanced Technologies, Honeywell
  • “New Lithium Sulfur Battery Development,” Bill Andrews, CEO, Nextech Batteries
  • “Fuel Cell Technology,” Rick Sickenberger, Teledyne Energy Systems
  • “Development and Demonstration of an Autonomous Optical Launch and Recovery System,” Avinash Gandhe, Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
  • “A Multi-Physics Prognostics Framework for Urban Mobility Operations,” Dr. Amine Chigani, CTO & VP Engineering, Sentient Science

eVTOL Session 6: eVTOL Missions and Applications [Wed. Jan. 30 – 4:00 to 5:30 PM]

Moderator: Michael Dudley, NASA Ames

  • Michael Dudley, NASA Ames: eVTOL Roadmapping
  • Candice Carter: Group 2 – Intracity Missions
  • Seren Webber: Group 3 – Intercity Missions
  • Johnny Doo, IVR: Group 4 – Public Service Missions

eVTOL Session 7: eVTOL Opportunities [Thurs. Jan. 31 – 8:00 to 10:00 AM]

Moderator: Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society

  • “A Review of Current Technology and Research in Urban On-Demand Air Mobility Applications,” Nicholas Polaczyk and Enzo Trombino, Iowa State University
  • “Enabling Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and eVTOL Operations,” Steve Jacobson, Autonodyne
  • “A Venture Capitalist’s Perspective on eVTOL,” Peter Shannon, Levitate Capital
  • Carl Dietrich, Co-Founder/CTO, Terrafugia
  • Francesco Giannini, Aurora Flight Sciences

eVTOL Session 8: Infrastructure/Passenger Experience [Thurs. Jan. 31 – 10:30 AM to 12:00 noon]

Moderator: Michael Dyment, Managing Partner, NEXA Advisors

  • “Global Vertiport Infrastructure Opportunities,” Michael Dyment, NEXA Advisors
  • “Vertiport Integration Constraints,” Rex Alexander, 5 Alpha
  • “Vertiport Design Possibilities,” Mark Pilwallis, Gannett Fleming
  • “eVTOL Noise Considerations, Dr. Ken Brentner, Penn State University
  • “Air Vehicle Factors Affecting Occupant Health, Comfort, and Productivity,” Bernard D. Adelstein, NASA Ames Research Center

eVTOL Session 9: Autonomy and Air Operations [Thurs. Jan. 31 – 1:00 to 3:00 PM]

Moderator: Bruce Holmes, SmartSky Networks

  • “NASA UTM,” Parimal Kopardekar, NASA
  • “NASA UAM Grand Challenge,” Davis Heckenberg, NASA
  • “Collaborative Autonomy for VTOL Operations,” Bimal Aponso, Associate Division Chief for Aeronautics, Intelligent Systems Division, NASA Ames Research Center
  • “Achieving Reliable Autonomy,” Dr. Eric Johnson, Penn State University
  • Frank Matus, Director, Digital Aviation Market Development – Americas, Thales

eVTOL Session 10: eVTOL for Good [Thurs. Jan. 31 – 3:30 to 5:30 PM]

Moderator: Johnny Doo, International Vehicle Research

  • “Distributed On-Demand TVF Search & Rescue & Disaster Relief Network,” Johnny Doo, IVR
  • “eVTOL for Search & Rescue,” Eddie Bennet, The Ripper Group, Australia
  • “eVTOL applications for Fire Fighting,” Michael Ralston, Menlo Fire District, California
  • “Traffic Management and Drones/eVTOL for Good,” Jessie Mooberry, A³ by Airbus
  • “A Unique eVTOL Concept and Applications,” Arnaud Didey, Neoptera

DroneShield U.S. Regulator Approves Order for Central American Security Agency

On 2 October 2018, shortly after a reported drone assassination attempt on the life of the Venezuelan President, DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (“DroneShield” or the “Company”) announced an order for its DroneSentry™ drone mitigation system and DroneGun Tactical™ jammer products for use by a Central American government security agency. The announcement stated that the Company’s ability to fulfill the order was subject to approval by the relevant U.S. regulator, and that there were no guarantees that the approval for that particular order would be granted. The Company is pleased to announce that the relevant U.S. governmental approval has now been granted.

For clarity, only some of the Company’s potential orders require such approval since sales of some of the Company’s products do not require governmental approval, and sales of the Company’s restricted products to a number of countries allied with the United States do not require such approval.

Oleg Vornik, DroneShield’s CEO, commented “Drone misuse is a universal problem, and no government or corporate civil infrastructure operator is immune from it. Inaction is not an option, and the recent events at Gatwick Airport, during which a malicious drone operator shut down England’s second largest airport for approximately 48 hours using an off the shelf consumer drone, stranding 100,000+ passengers, and causing tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage, have brought this home to decision-makers around the world.

DroneShield is one of the very few companies in the counterdrone industry that have progressed to products that have been proven in a range of environments, against a range of drones, with multiple governmental users.

As a result, in the recent months, DroneShield:

  • received an initial order for its counterdrone equipment from Zain (KWSE:ZAIN), one of the largest Middle Eastern telecoms, following an entry into a Teaming Agreement for the Middle East with Zain;
  • sold a substantial amount of anti-drone equipment to one of the largest Middle Eastern Ministries of Defence;
  • sold its portable drone jammers DroneGun™ for use by a Western governmental security agency;
  • sold DroneGuns™ for use by the national security agency of a major Asian country;
  • sold DroneSentry™ (DroneShield’s integrated multi-sensor drone detection and mitigation system), as well as DroneGuns™ to a Central American government security agency;
  • teamed up with Thales (ENXTPA:HO) on servicing Thales’ anti-drone needs in Spain;
  • had its products evaluated by the United States Department of Defense’s Assymetric Warfare Group at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia; and
  • had its DroneSentinel™ multi-sensor drone detection system used by the British military at the Autonomous Warrior 2018 exercise.

Shell Uses AI Inspection Drones

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is testing how artificial intelligence-enabled drones could help prevent costly maintenance problems on expensive equipment while improving worker safety, said Jay Crotts, the oil company’s executive vice president and global chief information officer.

Beginning early next year, the company will deploy several drones in a proof-of-concept project at the Shell Technology Center in Houston, which encompasses 1.2 million square feet and 44 buildings of laboratory and office space.

Flying at a maximum height of about 8,000 feet and weighing about 4 pounds, Shell’s drones will collect images of the Houston facility using cameras and infrared sensors.

Drones Shut Down Gatwick Airport

Gatwick reopened at about 6 a.m. Friday after having been shut down Wednesday night and all day Thursday after authorities said drones repeatedly violated the airport perimeter, threatening the safely of incoming and outgoing planes.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said Friday morning there had been about 40 sightings of “a small number of drones” while the airport was shut down. He told the BBC that the drone disruption at Gatwick was “unprecedented anywhere in the world.”

Grayling said additional “military capabilities” and a range of security measures had been put in place overnight but would not elaborate. He said the airport was considered safe for flights Friday even though the drone operator or operators had not been apprehended.

The Thursday shutdown upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of passengers, since about 110,000 people had been scheduled to pass through Gatwick that day.

After flight operations restarted Friday, the airport struggled to resolve a massive backlog of passengers and canceled, delayed or diverted flights. The number of passengers expected Friday was even higher than the previous day, and about 145 of Friday’s 837 scheduled flights at Gatwick were cancelled to handle the crush.

Then Gatwick takeoffs and landings had to be suspended again as a “precaution” after reports that a drone was spotted about 5:10 p.m., the airport said.

Planes circled over London or sat at Gatwick gates, waiting to find out what would happen Friday night, before getting a new “all-clear” about 70 minutes later.

Two arrested in drone disruption at Gatwick

Superintendent James Collis said “As part of our ongoing investigations into the criminal use of drones which has severely disrupted flights in and out of Gatwick Airport, Sussex Police made two arrests just after 10pm on 21 December.

“Our investigations are still on-going, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones, by deploying a range of tactics.

“We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice.

“The arrests we have made this evening are a result of our determination to keep the public safe from harm, every line of enquiry will remain open to us until we are confident that we have mitigated further threats to the safety of passengers.

“Anyone with information about the incident or who may have suspicions about the drone operators is asked to report online or call 101 quoting Operation Trebor. If you see anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the airport, please dial 999 immediately.”

Velodyne Lidar Announces Collaboration with Nikon in Technology Development and Manufacturing

Velodyne Lidar, Inc. (Velodyne), the inventor and leader of the lidar sensor industry for autonomous vehicles (AV), today announced Nikon Corporation (Nikon) as a new strategic investor with an investment of $25M. The parties further announced they have begun discussions for a multifaceted business alliance. Nikon is one of the world’s leading suppliers of products and solutions based on advanced optoelectronics and precision technologies.

Aiming to combine Nikon’s optical and precision technologies with Velodyne’s sensor technology, both companies have begun investigating a wide-ranging business relationship, including collaboration in technology development and manufacturing.

Velodyne believes the relationship will advance the timeline for manufacturing and mass production of lidar for the autonomous and advanced safety global market. The companies share a futuristic vision of advanced perception technology for a wide range of applications including robotics, mapping, security, shuttles, drones, and safety on roadways.

“Velodyne is creating a network of powerful alliances supporting the global autonomous vehicle industry,” said David Hall, Velodyne Lidar’s Founder and CEO. “One hundred years ago, optics and camera technologies like Nikon’s helped people to see better. Now, the basis of those technologies is helping computers see.”

About Velodyne Lidar, Inc.

Velodyne provides the smartest, most powerful lidar solutions for autonomy and driver assistance. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Velodyne is known worldwide for its portfolio of breakthrough lidar sensor technologies. In 2005, Velodyne’s Founder and CEO, David Hall, invented real-time surround view lidar systems, revolutionizing perception and autonomy for automotive, new mobility, mapping, robotics, and security. Velodyne’s high-performance product line includes a broad range of sensing solutions, including the cost-effective Puck™, the versatile Ultra Puck™, the perfect for L4-L5 autonomy Alpha Puck™, and the directional view Velarray™. For more information, visit

About Nikon Corporation

Nikon Corporation has been a pioneer in optical technology markets worldwide since its inception in 1917. Today, Nikon offers a wide range of products utilizing advanced technologies, from consumer products such as digital cameras, camera-related products and binoculars to industrial precision equipment including FPD and Semiconductor Lithography Systems, microscopes and measuring instruments. In the future, Nikon will take advantage of its core competencies for launching new products and also proposing solutions. In addition, Nikon focuses on the development of the healthcare business field.