Guest post: The view from a drone operator

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) promise to revolutionise business practices across a wide range of sectors. By delivering high efficiency data capture, improved operational safety and significant cost savings, UAVs are already being adopted across the industrial, governmental and military spectrum and there remains significant growth potential.

The use of unmanned technology is not entirely new however the availability and affordability have improved significantly. This has and is beginning to revolutionise aspects of industry previously limited in its use of aerial services due to the high costs involved with running fixed wing and rotary aircraft.

Much time is spent by the industry educating and advising industrial sectors how unmanned aerial systems can benefit their areas of commerce. Many of these arguments are the same and typically involve cost saving, greater efficiency, greater detail and a more environmentally friendly service. The one area that is still under sold is the health and safety benefit of not sending inspection teams out on ropes, access platforms or scaffolding. This is something we expect to change significantly in the coming years.

We have been involved in some incredible projects that have benefitted our customers in different ways. Last year we surveyed the entire Norfolk Broads National Park in under 3 months with 2 small unmanned systems saving at least 9 months of manual work whilst also allowing the customer to receive data from the edge of the reed bed, an area previously too unsafe to access on foot. Similarly, we have several clients who are being told to reduce the amount of time their inspection teams spend hanging from ropes, as well as others that cannot afford to shut down their operations for more traditional surveys.

As the technology continues to evolve at an incredible rate we are constantly adapting and incorporating new UAVs to achieve greater efficiency for our operational teams and clients alike. Often the technology is becoming smaller and can share the same retail presence as consumer products, however there is a difference: for us UAVs are not a toy they are an essential tool of our trade.

There should be emphasis on this as UAVS are a professional tool for our pilot operators to gather data. This is only part of the process for many in the industry who then upload aerial data to analysts representing anything from survey and construction to security and insurance.

In our experience, government and regulatory bodies can help the UAV community by:

  • Providing a balanced view of UAV benefits as well as risks. Falls from height remain consistently the number one source of UK workplace fatalities, and appropriate use of UAVs can make a real contribution to safety.
  • Clarifying the grey areas in the regulatory environment. There are many important questions where guidance is unclear, including fundamentals like the necessity for regulatory approval when companies use UAVs for “internal purposes”.
  • Harmonization with other countries. There is no consistency of regulatory framework across Europe, which adds cost and complexity when our clients ask for service outside the UK.

Nevertheless we expect continued growth as UAVs become more widely recognized as a valuable business tool.


Strat Aero/Geocurve is an international aerospace services company focussed on providing professional services using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology, covering all aspects of the value chain including aerial service, training and data analytics.

The industrial sectors we represent include inspection, survey, security & training.

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