Do I need a CAA Approved Operator?
For commercial applications, absolutely yes. Only through proper training with an approved National Qualified Entity (NQE) such as Resource UAS, is a UAV or drone operator able to secure accreditation for the UK Civil Aviation Authority and obtain insurance. The training courses are typically of 2 - 3 days duration, following successful completion of which, a candidate must draw up detailed checklists, known as Flight Reference Cards, for approval by the training organisation. Once these are approved, the flight evaluation can take place. This is considerably more involved than simply flying the aircraft and entails demonstrating an ability to undertake comprehensive pre-planning, both off and on-site. Having done so, the pilot's ability to safely put the aircraft into the air, fly it safely and deal competently with emergency situations or equipment failure, is examined. The next hurdle is to compile an Operations Manual to a standard acceptable to the CAA. The training companies can help with this, but it does take some time to get right. Many prospective commercial UAV pilots will obtain some help from their training providers in preparing the OM and this is recommended. Once it is ready, it is submitted to the CAA for approval. The CAA will issue formal notification as a PFAW (Permit to Fly for Aerial Work), i.e. to fly commercially. Only then can the new commercial UAV pilot be insured for this type of work. From start to finish, this process can typically take around six months.
Is EIS licensed and qualified to operate commercially?
Yes. Elevated Imaging Systems has been granted an Operational Authorisation by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Such authorisation can only be obtained by successfully completing approved training and flight evaluation by a CAA-accredited National Qualified Entities. We additionally hold the new A2CofC and GVC qualifications.
Is Elevated Imaging Systems fully insured?
Yes, by adhering to the operating guidelines and rules laid out by the CAA, we hold the necessary public indemnity insurances.
In what weather conditions are you unable to operate?
Our DJI Matrice 300 RTK UAVs are designed to be operated in arduous conditions including heavy rain and strong winds. However, for most drones, operation in such conditions is not recommended, due mainly to its impact on picture quality. Strong winds can also be dangerous, particularly when flying in close proximity to trees or buildings. Our unmanned aircraft, however, use exceptionally smooth gyroscopically controlled three-axis Camera Gimbals, ensuring stable and sturdy stills and video, even in breezy conditions. Of course, the safety of the UAV and its surroundings is paramount.
Can you fly indoors?
Yes. Our DJI Mavic, Phantom 4, DJI Inspire 1 and 2 UAVs are all equipped with sonar, optical and infrared sensors enabling precise control indoors. In addition, our Phantom 4 Pro UAV can be fitted with a lightweight carbon-fibre bump cage, enabling operation in restricted spaces. Each case, however, is considered on its own merits in relation to the practicalities and safety aspects of operating within the confines of buildings.
How many people are needed to operate the equipment?
We currently operate four types of sub-25kg UAVs. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro models are designed for single pilot operation. Our M300RTK, Inspire 1 and 2 Professional Platforms can be operated either by a single pilot or in conjunction with a separate camera operator, enabling fluid transitions and panning in flight, whilst the pilot directs his efforts towards ensuring the safety of the flight.
How long can you fly for?
Our Inspire 2 is capable of flying for up to 27 minutes with our 20 megapixel X4s camera and 22 to 24 minutes with the X7 24 megapixel and X5s 20.6 megapixel cameras, both of which can carry a range of lenses. Our DJI Inspire 1 system is able to fly for 20 minutes with the X3 camera. The Phantom 4 Pro, with its integrated 20 megapixel 1" sensor camera will fly for up to half an hour, as will the Mavic 2 Pro, with its 20 megapixel 1" CMOS sensor camera. The M300RTK can operate for up to 40 minutes with the H20T payload, with its integrated wide angle, zoom and high definition infrared sensors.
What are the height, range and speed of the systems?
CAA rules generally stipulate that unmanned aircraft should fly no higher than 400 feet above ground level and within visual line of sight, typically 500m of the drone pilot. We can, however, apply for permission to fly at greater heights in special circumstances, though in practice, this is rarely necessary.
What is the quality of the videos and stills of each rig?
All of our cameras are capable of delivering 4K video and high quality Adobe DNG Raw still images of up to 20.6 megapixels. The Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2 are able to record H.264 and H.265 compressed video at 100 Mbps bitrate to on-board MicroSD cards. For the most demanding applications, our Inspire 2 UAV can record RAW video in Adobe ProRes or CinemaDNG formats to an on-board high capacity solid state disk.
Does EIS lease its equipment out to third parties?
No. Each pilot must be fully certified and licensed by the CAA with each aerial system registered to and used by a specific designated pilot.
Are Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems better than helicopters and light aircraft?
To begin with, UAVs are certainly much cheaper, not only because they run on battery power but also because they can be easily transported to and launched on site. Significant savings can therefore be achieved since it is not necessary to bear the cost of flying the aerial platform to site. Furthermore, helicopters and light aircraft are noisy and are prohibited by the CAA from flying below 500ft. Our Remotely Piloted Aircraft are relatively quiet and can fly close to the subject, subject to meeting our strict operational and safety criteria. We can also get our multi-rotor aircraft into the air quickly when action may be sporadic.
Dolly rails and gantry platforms are also quite limited both in terms of range and movement and require considerable time to set up. Our aerial platforms can be launch-ready in a few minutes and can fly in any direction, irrespective of ground conditions and topography.