The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in the UK is leading work with the Civil Aviation Authority to establish how drones could be used in the demanding environment of SAR.
Evaluating the use of remotely piloted aircraft
In partnership the MCA and Elbit Systems UK are exploring how the use of remotely piloted aircraft could support the work of HM Coastguard. This is in addition to ongoing evaluations being carried out by Bristow Helicopters in North Wales evaluating a remotely piloted aircraft in simulated and recently real-time SAR rescue operations.
Although the Hermes 900 isn’t currently being used in live operations in the UK, it will be flying in the colors of MCA, and the assessment will further add to the ongoing work around using future technology in its work. As well as for SAR and safety overwatch, the remotely piloted aircraft could potentially be used for counter-pollution work providing vital live video and still photographs of ongoing incidents.
Revolutionizing emergency responses
Following the completion of the trial activity at West Wales Airport, near Aberporth, a report to be published at the end of this year will identify the key components of work that will be required to achieve regular, routine Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) flights in any class of airspace in the future.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Drones have the potential to help us in so many aspects of our lives. From SAR missions, to delivering critical medicines to places like the Isle of Wight – we’re exploring how this new technology could revolutionize our emergency responses. I’m proud to see the UK lead the way in trialing these technologies, which could lead to saving many more lives.”
Director of MCA Claire Hughes added: “We continue to do all we can to use existing technology, as well as look to the future, in our ongoing work of saving lives at sea. Remotely piloted aircraft continue to be a big part of that work, both to potentially save lives in SAR and protect our beautiful coastlines from the worst effects of pollution.”