Many tasks previously undertaken by plane or helicopter can be carried out more quickly and on a vastly lower budget with UAVs and by sending them into hazardous areas such as unstable land areas or toxic environments, risk to personnel is also reduced or removed. They are also proving useful almost anywhere working at height is required e.g. roof and chimney surveys, construction projects, bridge and turbine inspections etc.
These benefits have led the UK drone industry to grow quickly and it is predicted to expand massively in the next decade, creating many jobs and boosting our economy. The time and cost saving benefits of drone use are already widely recognised across a range of industries. According to the Guardian newspaper today, accountants PwC predict savings of £16bn annually through the use of drones and a lift to GDP by almost 2% by 2030. As expected, this prediction includes drones in the sky carrying out tasks such as building and infrastructure surveys, but in terms of support, research and development there will also need to be highly skilled teams to build and program them. “Elaine Whyte, of PwC, said: “Drones have the potential to offer a powerful new perspective for businesses across a variety of industries, delivering both productivity benefits and increased value from the data they collect.” The aviation minister Baroness Sugg is reported as saying that drones “would bring significant economic benefits” and that the government “was attempting to harness their potential through its industrial strategy”. Baroness Sugg is clearly positive about the future of UAV technologies, saying that “[Drones] are already improving people’s lives – helping the emergency services and keeping key national infrastructure like rail lines and power stations safe. Excitingly this is just the beginning.”
With more professional drone services to come, it will follow that there is more attention to regulation and safety and a draft drones bill is already in progress demonstrating the interest from the government in the industry moving forward. Organisations such as the CAA and EASA will no doubt update drone information on a fairly rapid basis, too. With such a fast moving industry, customers choosing drone services may find it becomes more of a minefield. Reputable directories such as the DroneSafe Register are helpful as customers know that listed pilots must have the necessary CAA permissions. In order to be safe and legal, it is vital that customers choose properly licensed, insured pilots with frequent flying experience and a high level of training to provide the multitude of services UAVs and sUAVs can deliver.