The rise in the popularity of drones for commercial use has seen the market grow to a staggering £102 billion per year. With this rise in demand, the range of models has increased and advances in technology have led to ever more impressive specifications.
This means that commercial drones now have faster speeds, can climb higher, are able to carry greater loads and fly for longer periods between battery charges. All great news, especially for the companies, organisations and individuals who are now using drones as an integral part of their everyday business activities.
The CAA Drone Code
With increasingly widespread use, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has been keen to ensure that those who are operating drones do so safely. Their concern has focussed on drone use near to airports and in relation to other aircraft, including passenger flights.
The CAA created the ‘Drone Code’ which is a straightforward set of rules intended to promote safe drone use. The main parts of the drone code are:
- Always keep your drone in sight
- Drone must be kept below 400 ft.
- Stay well away from airfields and airports
- Maintain a distance of at least 150 ft. from buildings or people
- Ensure you follow the drone manufacturer’s instructions
An additional regulation which exists is the requirement for pilots who wish to use drones for commercial activities to seek permission beforehand from the CAA. For this permission to be granted the users must pass both a theory and a practical test, which proves they know the rules and are competent to fly the drone safely.
Government Consults The Industry
Whilst the drone code and permission regulations provide a basic safety framework, at the end of 2016 the Government decided to launch a public consultation to look at drones with a specific focus on their economic benefits and how their safe use could be further enhanced.
One of the safety issues that prompted the need for the consultation will have been the doubling in 2016 of the number of near misses with drones reported by airline pilots. This included the first recorded instance of a drone hitting a passenger aircraft as was the case with a British Airways flight coming in to land at Gatwick Airport.
The consultation received submissions from a wide range of interested parties including manufacturers, airline pilots, drone users, trade unions and research bodies to name but a few. The findings of the consultation were published in July 2017, with the Government recognising the benefits that drones brought to the UK economy, and an intention that the UK be at the forefront of drone technology and innovation.
Good News Times Two
This is great news for businesses which manufacture, distribute or sell commercial drones, as it indicates that the Government is keen to support investment and development in drone technology. This gives manufacturers the confidence to innovate and when there are new and exciting products available, there is going to be a keen and active market willing to buy them.
What should also be regarded as good news is the Government’s commitment to strengthen the safety regulations in relation to drones. Specifically, they will introduce regulations that will apply to users of drones which weigh more than 250 grams with a new drone registration scheme and a course on safety awareness both planned.
A further and very significant development that the report mentions is ‘geofencing’. This is a system used to protect sensitive areas and specific buildings by creating an invisible shield around them using GPS technology. This prevents drones fitted with the technology entering an area or getting close to a specific building. Obvious examples are airports and airfields, but others which could be protected include prisons, military installations, and government buildings.
Attention + Awareness = Increased Demand
All this attention from the government in relation to commercial drones can only be positive. Not only are they keen to promote the economic advantages, but by improving the safety regime many businesses and organisations will hopefully shift their opinion from drones being a dangerous toy, to a resource that can bring many advantages and benefits. As awareness, confidence, and commercial uses grow, so will the demand for drone products that exist within the marketplace.
RCG Distribution has more than a decade’s worth of experience supplying state of the art drones and their accompanying accessories to retailers and resellers. Our team can support your product launch, and supply you with proven marketing and POS materials. We can also provide product training for your staff to ensure they give your own customers the best possible service. On the subject of looking after customers, we also offer full warranty support including parts and repairs from our UK based service centre.