Drone Pathfinder Programme

The Pathfinder Programme is part of a wider programme of work, both government led and across the UK’s public and private sectors. The programme is aimed at enabling integration of drones into UK airspace.

In 2018 the Programme’s focus was reviewed and refreshed, under the governance of the Department for Transport (DfT)the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Connected Places Catapult.

Overcoming barriers

The Programme will focus on identifying and overcoming the technical, operational, and commercial barriers, providing a platform for industry innovators to engage with government and the regulator at early stages, to jointly explore solutions and share information throughout the community. This increased engagement will serve to both maximise understanding of the current and future regulatory environment, as well as creating an opening for suggested adaptations to regulations where appropriate.

It is envisaged that this will assist in optimising the use of drones in the private and public sectors, enabling efficiency savings, improving their capabilities including the ability to carry out high risk activities in a safer way. The Programme will continue to explore solutions for safe, routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations across a range of application.

Our Mission

The programme aims to rapidly drive progress in drone technology and regulation over the next ten years, enabling industry and the public sector to fully exploit the market in areas such as geo-mapping, infrastructure inspections, surveying and logistics to both commercial and public-sector industries.


The Pathfinder Programme will take a phased approach to achieving routine use of drones within the UK by exploring specifically how routine BVLOS operations could be enabled by overcoming the identified challenges.


To ensure that the focus of the programme remains up to date, the list of challenges will be updated regularly based on actual industry engagement.

Become a Pathfinder

Find out how your drone project can become a pathfinder.

Benefits of becoming a Pathfinder include the opportunity to inform Government roadmaps and policy as well as future regulatory constructs, the opportunity to learn from other Pathfinder projects and the Pathfinder Community at Pathfinder Community Days, and access to the CAA Innovation Hub services.

connected places catapult pathfinder programme; drones; UK government innovation; drone technology
The Pathfinder Community

Transport Infrastructure Construction: Sensat, Costain Group, IUK , The Connected Places Catapult

Energy Infrastructure: EIC, Callen-Lenz, Wales & West Utilities, Cadent, National Grid Transmission, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, UK Power Networks, Callen-Lenz, Connected Places Catapult.

Geomapping: Ordnance Survey

Pathfinder Projects
Above and Beyond Pathfinder

This large-scale Pathfinder project aims at establishing and regularising a framework for Beyond Line of Sight (BVLOS) linear infrastructure surveys across electricity and gas networks, like pipelines or overhead lines.

Infrastructure Inspection Pathfinder

Costain together with Sensat and Connected Places Catapult, set up a collaborative Research & development programme to trial the use of drones in a Beyond Visual Line of Sight  (BVLOS) manner,  to understand the feasibility of effecting improvement in road construction projects with drone technology.

UASs (Unmanned Aerial System) to detect marine ingress near nuclear power stations Pathfinder

This Pathfinder project aims to use UASs for the early detection of marine ingress events near coastal nuclear power stations to adjust water cooling mechanisms and protect both electricity generation and the environment.

The UK Drones Pathfinder Programme is pleased to announce the addition of a new Pathfinder led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

This Pathfinder project aims to explore and develop, through demonstration, the regulatory environment to support the use of BVLOS drones in all classes of airspace. This will facilitate regular and routine use of drones, allowing the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to discharge its time critical, reactive Search and Rescue and Counter Pollution international obligations.

Local BVLOS in Controlled Environments Pathfinder

This Pathfinder project aims to develop and demonstrate the viability of a new approach to flying ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) operations. The ‘Local BVLOS’ operations addressed are those that take place in controlled environments such as industrial sites or where the area is under temporary emergency service control.

Pathfinder Events
Watch the Government Drone Pathfinder Community Webinar 5th November 2020

We held the Government Drone Pathfinder Community Webinar on Thursday 5th November.  This event provided an opportunity for the UAV community to share experiences and form connections.  The Government’s Pathfinder Programme is part of a wider programme of work across the UK’s public and private sectors, aimed at enabling integration of drones into UK airspace.

Download Presentations from the 3rd December 2019 Academic Workshop here

As part of the Drone Pathfinder Programme the Connected Places Catapult (CPC) hosted a themed stakeholder workshop exploring current and future UAS academic research on the 3rd December.

Download Presentations from the 21st November 2019 Community Day here

As part of the Drone Pathfinder Programme, the Connected Places Catapult (CPC) hosted a Government Drone Pathfinder Community Day on 21st November in London.  

Download Presentations from the 5th November 2019 Data workshop here 

As part of the Drone Pathfinder Programme, the Connected Places Catapult (CPC) hosted a themed stakeholder workshop exploring how data captured from drones can add value to business in different industry sectors on the 5th November.

Download Presentations from the 24th July 2019 Environments and Agriculture workshop here

As part of the Drone Pathfinder Programme, the Connected Places Catapult (CPC) hosted a themed stakeholder workshop on the use of Drones in the Environment and Agriculture on the 24th July.

Download Presentations from our 16th July 2019 Community Day here 

The pathfinder community meets once per quarter with the Pathfinder programme steering committee. These community days provide the community with the ability to network, socialise potential projects and opportunities, communicate project updates (challenges, benefits, methodologies, risks, etc).

Get in Touch

To find more about the Pathfinders or to get involved, please get in touch at drones@cp.catapult.org.uk

Drone Pathfinder; Connected Places Catapult; Innovation; Drone Technology

Enabling Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management in the UK report launched

A new report from Connected Places Catapult’s explores the steps the UK has taken to be at the forefront of commercial drone development and identifies the steps yet to be taken in order to remain in the global race towards unmanned traffic management.

SME and Business Programme

Our SME Programme is designed to harness our unique blend of technical knowledge, market expertise and regulatory experience, along with a team of dedicated SME support staff to help drive growth.

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