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UAVE Limited has supported a special week-long event run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) to test the use of drones.
From Monday 23 April to Friday 27 April along a stretch of South Wales coastline, a selection of drones were used in four different search and rescue scenarios to explore how they could be used to help save lives in the future.
The scenarios tested were a shoreline search for a casualty, an offshore search for multiple casualties in the sea, a mud rescue and a communications relay where a drone is required to relay information between rescue teams and a casualty on a cliff.
During the event, there was a particular focus on seeing how drones could work together with existing search and rescue teams and assets to enhance lifesaving capability and reduce risk to rescue teams, with RNLI lifeboats and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams featuring in the event’s scenarios.
UAVE Limited supported the event by completing a demonstration flight using BVLOS from St Athan with the impressive Prion Mk3. The Prion Mk3 payload can be modified with specialist equipment to carry out the necessary tasks. For search and rescue missions we integrated the UAV Vision’s CM100. We completed a demonstration flight using BVLOS from St Athan.
Kyly Phillips from UAVE Limited said: ‘This has been a fantastic event to be a part of. During the lead up to this event we flew the Prion Mk3 out to Cardigan Bay from West Wales Airfield to gain familiarity with the task ahead. It was great to work alongside the RNLI and MCA teams and prepare the Prion Mk3 for its first search and rescue mission. As a conclusion from this event we believe that the Prion Mk3 would be a huge aid in the search and rescue field, reducing the time it would usually take to identify someone stranded in the sea and re-lay in real time the exact co-ordinates to the rescue boat.’
Hannah Nobbs, from the RNLI’s Innovation Team, said: ‘The aim of this event was to provide realistic scenarios and an authentic operating environment to explore the use of drones in multi-agency operations.
‘This week-long test event is the culmination of around two years of work, where we’ve explored the use of drones in collaboration with key search and rescue partners and industry experts. I’d like to thank all of the industry partners that have supported our work to explore the use of drones in search and rescue activity so far. Their expert input has been extremely valuable.’
Phil Hanson, Aviation Technical Assurance Manager at the MCA, said: ‘The MCA is always ready to embrace working with new technology – especially if that technology could enhance search and rescue efficiency, save more lives and reduce risk to our personnel.’
A variety of drones were used in the scenarios during the event, including rotary platforms that offer stability for electro-optic and thermal sensor payloads, a tethered drone and fixed wing platforms that are runway or catapult launched.
The vast amount of information and insights gained from this week-long test event will now be evaluated by the RNLI and the MCA to help assess how drones could be used in search and rescue activity in the future.
Watch this space!
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) purchase two Prion Mk3 drones from UAVE Limited to be deployed at their science research station, Rothera, during the 2016/2017 summer work season on the Antarctic continent. The contract includes theory and drone operations training to be conducted at the company's new office facility in West Wales combined with flight operations training of a field crew for drone surveying to be conducted at the dedicated segregated drone airspace of West Wales Airfield, Aberporth.
UAVE Limited is pleased that this new award bolsters further our association with the use of the Prion aircraft for scientific surveying purposes which are anticipated to be many and varied across Antarctica. The long range flight endurance characteristic of the Prion is known to have been key to the decision process of the BAS in awarding this contract. The tried and tested Prion Mk3 aircraft as presented at the 2014 Farnborough Air-show by the company MD Phillip Slater are being manufactured in West Wales with all essential aircraft components being sourced from within the UK. The application of this aircraft platform to UK offshore wind farm operations and meteorological / air quality monitoring applications is actively being pursued by the company at this time.
Meeting the BAS at Bourn for demonstration flights
We purchased our new VW grafter transport van fitted with flat panel display units in the rear as a mobile base station!
To help shorten product development cycles it was decided that in the final quarter of 2015 we would relocate the manufacturing workshop from Dorset to a new workshop facility adjacent to our new training facility, our administration offices and our development test flight airfield WWA. The new workshop is a larger facility than the previous unit allowing for several aircraft to be work on simultaneously.
With roller doors on two sides of the workshop and a covered loading bay we can man handle the aircraft assembled, and run up newly built engines on the engine test bed whilst under cover and protected from the elements without the carbon monoxide poisoning of working in confined spaces!
Work on the new training facility was completed in November 2015. The facility can be configured for the training of up to 8 persons simultaneously and benefits from flight simulators, video playback facility and a networked environment.
The training school adopts our in house training manual for both the manual pilot (or safety pilot) and the ground station operator (or autopilot operator). The pilot training school combines theory, a taught course with flight simulators and practical flight exercises with a variety of different sized aircraft ranging from small RC model aircraft to eventually (and with satisfactory progress) the full sized Prion Mk3.
The location of the pilot training facility is at our office and workshop in West Wales with the exception of the final elements of the course which comprise high altitude long flight endurance sorties with the Prion Mk3 to be undertaken at West Wales Airfield dedicated UAV centre which has the ability to implement segregated airspace for that purpose.
West Wales Airfield dedicated UAV centre which has the ability to implement segregated airspace.