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Posted on 2nd March 2020 at 23:09
The risk to manned aircraft especuially low-level military helicopters and jets from our drone activities remains real. As current and former military helicopter pilots the instructors at UAV8 Ltd are well aware of the risks having flown thousands of hours below 400ft - in drone territory - we are now activly trying to educate drone pilots about the risks.
If you have completed training on a UAV8 Ltd drone course you will be well aware of the risk and methods of reducing them -covered in 'other air users' lesson. All drone pilots should be aware that there is a military low-level flying system across almost all of the UK and that military aircraft can be flying at very low heights, at speed day and night. As responsible drone operators we need to do our very best to reduce the chance of air to air conflict in the airspace that we share with the military.
So how do we reduce this risk?
Well the first thing we would suggest is that you apply for training with a reputable CAA approved drone training organisation such as UAV8 Ltd. A full list of the National Qualified Entities (NQE) are listed on the CAA website. Some NQEs such as UAV8 Ltd will shortly be changing to RAE status and will be delivering courses that comply with the new regulations.
The second simple action is to always have an observer with you whose sole responsibility is to look out for potential conflicts and advise the pilot accordingly. We use a military alerting method called 'ABC', (Action, Because, Clockcode) for observers - Simple and effective.
Next action, use strobe lighting on top of the drone, not so you can see the drone but so that a pilot of a manned aircraft might see it. White is the brightest! At around 15 pounds this is a cheap and effcetive method of improving vizablity (we use Strobeon).
You might also want to raise an orange windsock, as in our experinece, it will always get the attention of the pilot as the colour contrast works well against the ground.
There are many ways in which to reduce risk of air to air conflict and sometimes the simplest ideas are the best! What ever you do, do something and always be aware that the airspace you operate within is shared airspace and a risk is always there.
For more info on the UK Low Flying System visit https://www.gov.uk/low-flying-in-your-area
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