Category Archives for "Quadcopters"

CAA CAP 1202 – You Have Control – UAV Safety Notice

CAP 1202 UAV Safety You Have Control

In the interest of promoting UAV safety and the legal and responsible flying of unmanned multirotor aircraft the CAA have issued CAP (Civil Aviation Publication) 1202 – “You Have Control”.  If you’re new to the world of quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopters, helicopters, and fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicles then this guide should serve as a useful reminder of the very basics in terms of operational limits.

You can download a copy direct from the CAA’s website here.  The leaflet has been reproduced in its entirety below.

For a more thorough understanding of the CAA rules and regulations regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft in the UK’s airspace you will also need to study sections 166 and 167 of CAP 393 (Air Navigation: The Order and the Regulations), and CAP 722, both of which can be retrieved from the CAA’s website.  It’s recommended that you check the site for the latest copy on a frequent basis and register for the free subscription service which will inform you of any changes to the regulations for unmanned aviation, UAS, and drones generally.

CAP 1202 UAV Safety You Have ControlCAA CAP 1202 – You Have Control – UAV Safety Notice

6 Benefits of Flying Drones, UAV

Drone Aerial Photography

DJI-Inspire-1-ControllerHere are six benefits of flying drones, UAVs and other unmanned aircraft.  These advantages may not be the first thing you think of when you buy your own multirotor or fixed wing aircraft.

  1. Learning a new skill.  Perhaps you have plenty of RC model flying experience.  Perhaps you have none at all.  Either way, flying a Phantom or some other quadcopter well takes a little practice, and flying a hexacopter or octocopter takes lots of practice to become skilled and safe.  All this learning is marked by milestones and as you reach each one you can be sure of a boost to your self esteem and confidence.  Enjoy the experience of learning not only how to fly them but also how to use all the software written especially for them.
  2. Gaining new friends and acquaintances.  Once you being flying your drone anywhere you will probably attract the attention of curious bystanders and passers-by who want to know more about the aircraft, how high & fast it goes, and how much it costs.  These strangers may become acquaintances and later on, friends with whom you fly or mix with socially.  Then there are online forums and groups in social media where new connections can be made.
  3. Old Wincheter Hill 2014-06-14 09.10.53Fresh air and exercise.  As your flying progresses you’ll start to look for more locations.  You’ll want to not only compare the differences in flying, for example, next to the sea with that of flying in open pasture or on a hill.  All this means you’ll have to get off the sofa, get out of car and walk, and you’ll probably be carrying a rucksack containing not only your quadcopter but also your lunch and perhaps other essentials like sun cream and a fold-up chair.  The physical effort of reaching some locations and seeing the view is an advantage in itself.
  4. Appreciation of nature and the four seasons.  Following on from No.3 you’ll find that you might return to the same locations at different times of the year to take more pictures and video footage.  See the changing seasons unfold, note the way the landscape, the flora and the fauna change as the months pass.  Try arriving at different times of the day and in varying weather.  Some great shots can be achieved from the top of the hill soon after dawn when there is still mist clinging to the rivers and fields in the valleys below.
  5. DJI Inspire 1 ScreenBecome an expert in a new technology.  New gadgets often create a buzz and spark interest, but the world of unmanned aviation is large and growing rapidly.  It’s hard to predict where things will be in two, five, or ten years time.  It may be that the drone age has just been born and that in decades to come they will be as commonplace as the internet and mobile phones are now.  You can become one of the pioneers in this field.
  6. Increase your employment prospects.  The rapid growth in the world of UAS is creating new jobs in many areas.  There are opportunities opening up in research, development, design, and software.   There is an increasing demand for drone pilots in many businesses; agriculture, archeology, surveying etc – just about anything that can benefit from data capture from the air, and of course there is aerial photography and filming.  If you have ambitions in any of these areas the first step is to acquire an RPQ-s or BNUC-s licence.  The path to each of these will teach you the basics of Air Law, risk assessment, flight planning, and general skills for the the safe and legal use of UAV in the commercial world.

These are just a few of the many and growing advantages of the hobby and commercial use of drones.  If you can think of any others, let me know by posting a comment below or in on of this site’s social media accounts (the links are in the footer).

DJI Phantom Flight Training

DJI Phantom 1

The original Phantom 1. Still popular and available.

A question often posted in user groups and forums by those who are considering their first Phantom is, “Is there any DJI Phantom Flight Training?” or similar. The answer is, “Yes, there is“, and there are several ways to go about earning your wings, maintaining your skills, and becoming professionally qualified.

Ab Initio Flight Training

If you’ve had any previous experience with radio controlled aircraft of any type then you might tempted to skip the preliminaries and dive straight in to more advanced maneuvers, but is this wise? A Phantom quadcopter is more complex than conventional RC aircraft and although it’s easier to fly in many ways it has a lot of features that are common to multirotor UAV and less common or non-existent in radio controlled aircraft, so perhaps it would be better to approach it as if it’s something completely new.

If you have had no previous model aeroplane flying of any kind then you can still buy yourself a Phantom and learn step by step how to master the skills required for successful and enjoyable flights. On the other hand, some people prefer to start with something a little smaller just to get a feel for applying power and practicing flight control and one popular choice is the Hubsan X4 which can be flown indoors or outdoors. It therefore makes a good substitute for practice when the weather prevents outdoor flying.

However, at £60 for the Hubsan plus another £80 for the transmitter you might prefer to put that £140 towards your first DJI Phantom.

Pilot Training Guide

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

RTFM. Read The Fantom Manual.

If you visit the DJI website and check the download section for any of the Phantom models you’ll see a link to the Pilot Training Guide. This pdf document is both an introduction to flying exercises as well as a reminder of what to practice from time to time. You can download a copy for free if you’re curious, before deciding to buy your first quadcopter.

This guide begins by reminding us that the DJI Phantom is not a toy and that it’s not suitable for anyone under the age of 18 years old. This may seem a little over cautious but it is a valid point when you consider the height, range, and potential speed of a device that weighs over a kilo. It may be unmanned but it’s still an aircraft and it has the potential to fly into airspace where it could conflict with other aircraft.

In the next sentence the guide reminds us to read three documents; the Quick Start Guide, the User Manual, and the Disclaimer. It also suggests that the reader watches the video tutorials. Hard copies of some of these are included in each new Phantom box but it’s recommended that you visit the download page to retrieve the latest copy containing important updates. There is a lot of information in these three documents and in the videos combined so the learning curve may appear steep to begin with but time spent on these steps will pay dividends later in time saved, and may save you from costly (and embarrassing) mistakes.

There then follows some reminders of essential pre flights checks and guidelines before the document describes various flying exercises. I suspect that many Phantom owners will use this document one, try the exercises a few times, and never refer to it again, but the maneuvers it describes are the kind of flying exercises which, when mastered, will hone your flying skills. If you find yourself flying near obstacles, going under or through an object, or flying indoors then keeping these skills current will help a great deal. If you’ve had a break from flying for a couple of weeks working through these exercises is a good way to freshen up and get the rust of those skills.

UAV Pilot Training

UAV TrainingThere are two options for anyone considering using a UAV (DJI Phantom or any other type) for commercial purposes in the UK. There is the BNUC-s run by EuroUSC and the RPQ-s run by the Resource Group. Both licences are recognised by the CAA and are the means by which an individual can obtain the PFAW (Permission For Aerial Work). Both involve studying some ground school subjects and undertaking flight tests in order to meet the required standard. The ground school subjects include basic studies that will be familiar to conventional aircraft pilots, but which are tailored for UAV flying e.g. Principles of Flight, Meteorology, Navigation etc.

There is a lot of interest in UAV and it’s growing, so demand for these courses is high. If you intend to follow this route you will need to book and schedule for them months in advance and be prepared to wait a further one or two months for the CAA to process your application even after you’ve passed the theory and practical exams.

UAV Insurance

There are two aspects of UAV insurance to consider:

  • Insurance against loss or theft. If you lose your Phantom for any reason then it might be possible to claim against your house insurance, but it’s best to check that this is the case before you start flying. Some policies include cover for personal items outside the home. It would come as a nasty surprise to find that you’re not covered as your Phantom sinks into a lake because you flew it too high or too far beyond your or the Phantom’s abilities.
  • Public Liability Insurance. If you make a mistake or something goes technically wrong and your Phantom causes damage to property or injury to a person then you will need cover for any claims made against you. This type of insurance can be obtained through the BMFA or or FPV.org.

If you fly commercially then you’ll need both types of insurance but they’ll be tailored to suit your choice of UAV and operating areas and environments – with premiums to match!

Stay Safe, Stay Legal

Part of learning how to fly a DJI Phantom or any other type of UAV is knowing what your legal limits are, as well as the technical limits and those of your own skills. On the rare occasion that flyers get into difficulty it’s because they cross one of these boundaries.

CAA Publicaton CAP 722, section 6.7:

The aircraft (UAV) shall not be flown

• in controlled airspace, except with the permission of the appropriate ATC unit;
• in any aerodrome traffic zone except with the permission of either the appropriate ATC unit or the person in charge of the aerodrome;
• at a height exceeding 400 feet above the surface;
• at a distance beyond the visual range of the Remote Pilot/RPA observer of the said aircraft, or a maximum range of 500 metres, whichever is less;
• over or within 150 metres of any congested area of a city, town or settlement; or
within 50 metres of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the Remote Pilot; during take-off or landing, however, the aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres unless that person is under the control of the Remote Pilot.

You also need to pay attention to NOTAMs that may advise you of temporary restrictions to any aerial activity in an area in which you may be planning to conduct flights.