Trialling drones in a maritime environment

Our Pathfinder project with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) aims to explore and develop, through demonstration, the regulatory environment to support the use of Beyond Line of Sight (BVLOS) drones in all classes of airspace.

It will facilitate regular and routine use of drones, allowing the MCA to discharge a number of time-critical search & rescue, and counter pollution operations.

The mission statement of this Pathfinder is;

“With flight safety at its heart, we aim to deliver an integrated BVLOS operated UAS in unsegregated, uncontrolled (U2) airspace to support UK search and rescue operations”

This project will seek to:

  • Work in concert with the CAA to develop the regulatory environment
  • Achieve the safe integration of drones into UK airspace
  • Move public perception of drones from negative to positive by demonstrating their use in a life-saving application – “drones for good”
  • Explore ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness, whilst reducing risk to our personnel

The aim of the project is to develop the regulatory environment, build confidence in the effective integration of drones into UK airspace, create generic Standard Operating Procedures and a guide to BVLOS operations in unsegregated airspace.

Key Challenges the project addresses:

  • Development of BVLOS Concept of Operations and Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Obtain approval from the CAA for the demonstration.
  • Identify the Regulatory Authorities’ requirements for approving BVLOS flight in unsegregated airspace
  • Obtain CAA approval for final ‘business as usual’ framework
  • Understand how drones could contribute to current SAR and CP capability

The Delivery Partnership

A delivery partnership of MCA, Elbit Systems UK, Inzpire and ASG working in close co-operation with the CAA, will deliver this Project.

The MCA will utilise its renown, world leading expertise in Search and Rescue and Counter Pollution, together with its experience in management of aviation operations to direct the project.

ESUK is recognised for its technical and commercial innovation together with its collaborative behaviour with regulators and customers worldwide to achieve clearances for the use of UAVs of varying size, weight and capability for search and rescue. Together with Inzpire Ltd (Inzpire) and Aviation Systems Group (ASG), they have formed a team with the requisite skills, experience and suitably qualified personnel to successfully achieve the MCA’s principal objective.

ASG contributes its familiarity with the CAA regulatory environment and processes, and successful track record of gaining clearances with the CAA, to apply ESUK’s capability to the UK maritime search and rescue domain.

Inzpire offers deep operational experience of planning and executing missions for search, rescue and surveillance within UK coastal and offshore waters, and its experience in analysing human factors and training in support of UAS operations.

This project is entirely funded by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency