Skyryse celebrates the sixth anniversary of its first unmanned VTOL flight

Skyryse, bringing trust, safety, and accessibility of flight for all through its flagship technology, commemorates the sixth anniversary of the first lightweight unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) flight achieved on March 29, 2017.  This aviation milestone has become a driving force in Skyryse’s innovative approach to bringing the joy and freedom of aviation to all as it heads toward FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification. 

Six years ago, Skyryse set out to develop a technology stack, making flying a general aviation aircraft simpler and safer. Founder and CEO Dr. Mark Groden and a team of four spent nearly a year working to earn FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval to fly an unmanned aircraft above 55 pounds (above typical drone weight). The team achieved the first lightweight unmanned flight within three months of their initial seed funding. 

Building on the first unmanned flight, the company operated the highest volume, full-service, multimodal door-to-door air-taxi service in the world, leading to the development of the first cost-effective instrument flight rules (IFR) VTOL. Skyryse has grown from a team of four to nearly 100 with a similar objective of making flying simpler and more accessible, democratizing the skies.

Skyryse’s intuitive, highly-automated, airframe-agnostic, and universal flight control system accelerates accessibility, safety, and overall ease of flight by decades.  Anyone can complete an entire flight from skids up to set down with the same familiar tap-and-swipe gestures used on a mobile device. 

“Celebrating this anniversary is a reminder of our humble beginnings and an extraordinary triumph in our company history,” said Groden of Skyryse. “We continue to celebrate our early achievements to bring increased ease and safety to every flight across general aviation.”

On average, there are more than 300 general aviation deaths each year in the United States, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  Most of these incidents occur due to loss of control or pilot error, an issue Skyryse and FlightOS address head-on. Skyryse FlightOS can reduce general aviation fatalities and allow anyone to enjoy the freedom of piloting an aircraft. Skyryse’s FlightOS offers 10-9 safety standards (one-in-a-billion chance of catastrophic system failure) through a full fly-by-wire system with triply redundant, dissimilar architecture, increasing general aviation safety to commercial air transport levels.     

FlightOS has already achieved 100% means of compliance for its full-stack technology solution after completing a major System Review with the FAA, including hardware, software, and human-factor components. This achievement accelerates the company’s path toward certification, focusing on simplified vehicle enhancements of already certified airframes.

About Skyryse
Los Angeles-based Skyryse is bringing trust, safety, and the accessibility of flight for all through FlightOS, its easy and intuitive integrated flight control system. FlightOS removes many aircraft management complexities during standard flight operations, inclement weather, and emergencies. Skyryse has raised over $260 million from leading investors, including Fidelity Management & Research Company, Monashee Investment Management, ArrowMark Partners, Venrock, Eclipse Ventures, Cantos, Stanford University, and Bill Ford, Executive Chair, Ford Motor Company.

For more information, visit www.skyryse.com

Can You Fly a Drone in Virginia Beach?

Virginia Beach in southeastern Virginia is arguably the most popular attraction in the state.

Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, the area features rolling seas and a three-mile boardwalk. For the history buffs, the First Landing State Park is also there.

Can you capture these magnificent sights and more with your drone? Can you fly a drone in Virginia Beach?

You can fly a drone in Virginia Beach, as Virginia has no local drone laws. However, you must always follow FAA guidelines. Drone enthusiasts love Little Island Park, the Virginia Beach fishing pier, and the nearby Stumpy Lake Natural Area for flying.

If this is the year you finally decide to vacation in Virginia Beach and you’ll have your drone in tow, make sure you keep reading.

We have lots of helpful information to share ahead!

Can you fly a drone in Virginia Beach?

The famous saying is that Virginia is for lovers, but that’s not wholly true.

Virginia is also for families, sunbathers, swimmers, vacationers, and anyone who wants to get away from life’s troubles for a little while. That’s why Virginia Beach is so wildly popular!

So what’s the drone policy in a place like this?

Although you might assume Virginia Beach prohibits drones, that’s not the case. Virginia has no local ordinances or laws, including in Virginia Beach.

This is excellent news for pilots, as you can pack up your drone, stroll through the sand, and capture aerial photos and videos of Virginia Beach’s stunning ocean.

Of course, you still must obey drone rules, which we’ll talk about later. Don’t expect to get on the boardwalk during peak season, as this area gets very crowded.

You can wake up with the sun and do your shooting then, as you’ll see a few lone individuals on the boardwalk, but no crowds.

Alternatively, you can wait until the offseason when cold weather forces all but the most dedicated people away from the beach.

The 8 best places to use a drone in and around Virginia Beach

It’s always exciting to learn you can fly your drone in a destination on your travel shortlist. Yet where exactly in Virginia Beach can you fly? That’s what we’re here for!

The following locations in and around Virginia Beach are all safe for drone pilots to visit and fly around in.

1. Little Island Park

We’ll start with Little Island State Park, a 122-acre beach park in Virginia Beach. The park features sports courts, picnic shelters, crabbing, fishing, and swimming.

The fishing pier is a massive 400 feet, and the beach is 775 feet.

If you find that Virginia Beach a little too crowded, make a beeline for Little Island Park. It offers many of the same sights but without the jam-packed boardwalk.

That’s not to say the park doesn’t get busy, especially since it contains a beach and a playground on the same grounds.

Try to get there during the week or other odd times so you have more space to yourself.

2. Great Bridge Lock Park

In nearby Chesapeake, Great Bridge Lock Park is yet another island park for drone enthusiasts to explore.

The park has a picnic shelter, observation beam, boat ramp, fishing area, and playground. It’s also a popular spot for fishing and crabbing.

Measuring 19 cozy acres, Great Bridge Lock Park affords views of a river and canal, depending on which side of the park you’re on.

Its observation beam would make an excellent spot for using your drone. Just make sure it doesn’t fall into the water!

3. West Neck Creek Natural Area

How about a change of pace? The West Neck Creek Natural Area is a wooded part of Virginia Beach that’s 217 acres.

The park maintains its natural state except for some paths, including a 2.5-mile soft path.

Plan for a leisurely stroll in the wooded area, but don’t fly your drone too high, as you don’t want it getting caught in tree branches or brush.

4. Oak Grove Lake Park

Chesapeake’s Oak Grove Lake Park is a cozy 65-acre park with a playground, benches to sit and reflect, a lake, and a 1.5-mile trail that circles the lake.

It’s a tranquil, peaceful environment for wandering around in with your drone in tow.

Although perhaps not as popular as a beach park during the summer, these wooded parks can attract sizable crowds, so plan your drone flights for less busy times.

5. Munden Point Park

Virginia Beach’s Munden Point Park is another place to add to your list as you finalize your drone flight plans.

The 100-acre park may be small, but it’s on the riverfront, so it affords you some truly stunning views.

Keep in mind this park has an 18-hole disc golf course, so you will have to stay a clear distance away since that part of the park is quite popular, i.e., crowded.

6. Stumpy Lake Natural Area

On Indian River Road, the Stumpy Lake Natural Area is 1,422 acres. It includes almost two miles of soft trails, over 970 acres of undeveloped forest, a golf course that’s 175 acres, and a lake that’s 278 acres.

If you want to get away from people, Stumpy Lake Natural Area is large enough that you can easily do it. That will make flying your drone a lot easier!

7. Mount Trashmore Park

The name might not make it sound worth seeing, but Mount Trashmore Park deserves a visit during your time in Virginia Beach.

The park has been a city landmark since 1974. It earned its name because it was once a landfill but is now appealing greenspace.

Mount Trashmore has both a Kids’ Cove and a skate park, so there are some parts of the park you’ll want to stay away from when using your drone to avoid crowds.

8. Virginia Beach Fishing Pier

If you want to capture drone footage on Virginia Beach itself, its fishing pier is the best place to do it.

You’ll get a great vantage point of the rolling ocean below, you can see crowds without getting too close, and your drone will stay a good distance from the water.

That said, make sure you don’t use your drone near the other anglers, as you don’t want it getting entangled in the fishing line.

State and federal laws to remember when using your drone in Virginia

Virginia Beach may not have any local drone laws, but the state of Virginia has plenty of state laws.

Additionally, you must follow federal drone laws from the FAA. Let’s go over what you need to know.

No spying or peeping

According to Virginia state law HB 2350, if you intentionally use an electronic device such as a drone to spy into an occupied building or dwelling or to peep on someone, you’ll receive a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.

You could be jailed for a year, and you might have to pay a $2,500 fine on top of it. Use your drone respectfully!

No drones in state parks

According to the Code of Virginia 4VAC5-30-400:

“No person shall voluntarily land or unlawfully operate within or upon any park, any airplane, remote control model aircraft, helicopter, unmanned aerial system, drone, balloon, parachute, or other apparatus for aviation.”

Have a drone license

To legally fly your drone in the United States, including in Virginia Beach, the FAA requires you to hold the appropriate license.

Recreational pilots can apply for the TRUST certificate by passing the free TRUST exam, an all-online drone test.

Commercial pilots must pay to take the Part 107 exam for a chance to earn their Remote Pilot Certificates.

A Remote Pilot Certificate expires two years after you receive it. You can take the FAA’s free online exam to keep your license current before expiry.

Register your drone

If your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds, you must register it with the FAA.

It costs only $5 to get your drone registered. More importantly, it’ll be ready for flying. The registration lasts for three years.

Don’t fly your drone higher than 400 feet

In Virginia and the rest of the United States, the FAA restricts drone pilots from flying higher than 400 feet from the ground.

This is to prevent interruptions to manned aircraft.

Do not fly within five miles of an airport

Virginia Beach has its own airport, appropriately named the Virginia Beach Airport. Nearby is also the Chesapeake Regional Airport.

You’re prohibited from using your drone within five nautical miles of any airport in the state, as these are no-fly zones. You need authorization to launch.

Operate your drone during daylight hours

Unless you have special permission, you can only use your drone from sunrise to sunset. Make sure you vacate the beach as the sun begins going down, as it’s also dangerous to fly during this time.

Don’t use your drone in inclement weather

Speaking of dangerous flight conditions, using your drone in rain, wind, fog, hail, snow, and any other strong weather condition reduces your control and makes your drone a risk to yourself and others.

That’s why the FAA bans drone flights in inclement weather.

Maintain VLOS

All drone pilots must keep their UAVs within their visual line of sight, which is how far you can naturally see in front of you.

If you can’t maintain VLOS, you must have a spotter with you who can.

Virginia Beach has no local ordinances prohibiting drone flights.

While you can’t get too close to crowds on the boardwalk, fly within five miles of an airport, or visit some parks, Virginia allows drone pilots many liberties.

It’s a great place to go and fly a drone!

Can You Fly a Drone in Vancouver?

Vancouver is a widely populated seaport known for its mountains and culture, especially musically and artistically.

You’ve always wanted to experience Vancouver for yourself, and now that you have the opportunity, you’re thinking about bringing your drone along for the ride.

Can you fly a drone in Vancouver?

You can fly a drone in Vancouver, but you’re prohibited from certain parts of this major city, including national and provincial parks, airports, and populous parts. Some of the best places to fly a drone in Vancouver are Deep Cove Park, Richard Bolton Park, and Deep Lake Park.

This article will tell you all you need to know about flying a drone in Vancouver, including more recommendations for where to do it, where you can’t fly, and the drone laws in Canada.

Can you fly a drone in Vancouver?

According to Transport Canada, the country’s leading drone authority, drones are legally permitted in Canada, including in Vancouver.

However, that doesn’t mean you can fly anywhere you want. Here’s a list of places where your drone is likely off-limits.

Downtown Vancouver

As one of the most populated parts of Vancouver, while you’re not expressly banned from the downtown area, there just isn’t enough room for your drone to fly comfortably. This part of the city features department stores, nightlife, bars, restaurants, and clubs.

You’re better off spending your time in Vancouver elsewhere unless you want to visit downtown without your drone.

Beaches

Vancouver has a variety of beaches, including Trout Lake Beach, New Brighton Beach, Spanish Banks Beach Park, and many more.

You should be permitted to operate your drone around the beaches here. That said, the lighter your drone, the better, as you’ll have more flight freedom around crowds.

Even if your drone can fly around people, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best idea. You should always respect the privacy of others as a drone pilot, which means maintaining a reasonable distance while you do your thing and the other beachgoers do theirs.

To that end, you might plan to visit the beach during the cold offseason or at least during off-peak hours during the summer, such as earlier in the day or during the week.

Airports

Vancouver has the Vancouver International Airport and the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre. Transport Canada laws prohibit drones within one nautical mile of the closest heliport and three nautical miles of the closest airport.

Parks

Lots of greenspace abounds around Vancouver, and while you can enjoy public parks with your drone, you’re prohibited from flying near national and provincial parks. You must have prior permission, and that’s not often granted to drone pilots.

Keep in mind that while you’re typically barred from using your drone in the above places, those aren’t the only parts of Vancouver where drone use may be off-limits. Please use a drone map to discern between restricted and unrestricted airspace.

The 6 best places to fly a drone in Vancouver

For as many parts of Vancouver as you’re disallowed in, the city has many parks that frequently see drone enthusiasts gathering in droves. Here’s an overview of spots to visit and take your drone for a spin.

1. Deep Cove Park

Drone pilots have had good luck using UAVs at Deep Cove Park in northern Vancouver. The park features a loop trail that’s an easy 0.7 miles and requires less than 20 minutes to complete.

Besides the trail, Deep Cove Park attracts Canadians who love running, hiking, and birding. The park should have crowds but is spaced out enough that you should be able to create some distance between you and them.

2. English Bay

English Bay in British Columbia near Burrard Peninsula extends across Burrard Inlet, the University Endowment Lands, West Point Grey, Kitsilano, West End, and Stanley Park.

In warmer weather, you’ll typically see people gathering here to watch sunsets, swim, or sunbathe. The bay is also in proximity to Third Beach, Second Beach, Sunset Beach, Locarno Beach, Jericho Beach, and Kitsilano Beach, so the crowds may be a little more spaced out.

The sights here are gorgeous and worth capturing with your drone. You’ll take in the beauty of the beaches, the tranquility of the bay, and the urbanization of the nearby high-rise apartments.

3. Richard Bolton Park

For more greenspace, try Richard Bolton Park. This park in nearby Burnaby is categorized as Class G uncontrolled airspace. You can see Burnaby Mountain from certain elevations, which is truly a sight to behold.

Be forewarned that you’re not far from a heliport zone, so check your drone map and stay within the allowable parameters.

4. Kitsilano Beach

From the English Bay, you can jump right to Kitsilano Beach (not literally, of course), as this beach permits drone use. The beach has the lengthiest swimming pool in the country that the Vancouver Park Board operates.

However, keep in mind that Kitsilano Beach is among the most popular in this part of Vancouver. In the summer especially, the beach will attract massive crowds. You won’t be able to use your drone when it’s people as far as the eye can see.

5. Albert Crescent Park

Another great park to add to your list is Albert Crescent Park in nearby New Westminster. Declared the flagship park in the area, Albert Crescent Park is 4.5 acres of fun. It features trails, sports courts and fields, skate parks, outdoor pools, outdoor fitness circuits, playgrounds, and a community garden.

The park has a heliport zone to the south where you’re not permitted to fly, but barring any large crowds, the rest of the park is fair game within reason. 

6. Deer Lake Park

The last spot we recommend for flying a drone around Vancouver is Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. Although you’re within reach of the Burnaby Art Gallery, you’re far away enough that you can fly peacefully.

The lakeside trails and picnic areas here create a calm environment, as does the city’s architecture peaking over the tall trees.

What happens if you use your drone illegally in Vancouver?

You don’t want to use your drone illegally in Vancouver unless you have very deep pockets. Even then, we’d still not recommend it.

Should you disobey Transport Canada’s drone laws, you’ll  receive a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 CAD for each drone infraction. That’s $740 to $2,216 USD.

If you commit multiple infractions, you’ll double or even triple the fine!

Canada drone laws to know before visiting Vancouver

Before launching your drone in beautiful Vancouver, get yourself up to speed on Canada’s drone laws. They’ll ensure a safe flight for all!

You must have a valid certificate

If you’re at least 14 years old, you can apply for a basic drone license in Canada. Once you turn 16, you can hold an advanced license.

All drone pilots operating in Canada must have a license or be supervised by a license holder (in the case of pilots under 16).

The only permissible certificates in the country are those officially administered by Transport Canada. Your license must be valid, or you can’t use a drone.

You must register and mark your drone

If your drone weighs under 250 grams, you don’t have to register it. All other drones you own must undergo registration with Transport Canada before you can legally fly. You must also mark your drone.

Avoid manned aircraft

Since you’re restricted from getting too close to airports and heliports, you should find it easy to avoid manned aircraft, but remember, this is more than a courtesy. It’s the law!

Do not interrupt emergency operations with your drone

Transport Canada prohibits drones from veering too close to forest fires to other emergencies. You could interrupt emergency operations and possibly hinder the operations, costing lives!

Don’t fly near big events or close to crowds

Transport Canada also cautions drone pilots to keep their distance from parades, outdoor concerts, and other advertised events. You must also keep a horizontal distance of at least 30 meters from crowds during basic operations.

Fly no higher than 122 meters

The standard drone height of 122 meters or 400 feet applies in Canada. This max height limits your distance from manned aircraft.

Only fly your drone where you can see it

You can fly your drone at night in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada, but it must have lights affixed to it. Otherwise, you must be able to see your drone to use it, so if you don’t have lights, only fly by day!

Conclusion  

Vancouver is one of the most popular parts of Canada and a city that permits drone use. You cannot fly in the city’s national parks, airports, heliports, or around crowded areas. Remember to always follow Transport Canada laws and have a fun time!

Can I Fly My Drone in the Everglades?

Everglades National Park in Florida is more than one million acres of wetlands.

This huge expanse of land also includes flatwoods, marshes, and mangroves and is known for the many animal species that call it home. Can you operate a drone in the Florida Everglades?

You cannot fly a drone in the Everglades according to the National Park Service. If you do, you’ll receive a fine. Use a drone map to discern the full scope of the Everglades, as it’s a huge park!

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about flying a drone in this part of Florida, so make sure you don’t miss it!

Can you fly a drone in the Everglades?

Everglades National Park is 1.5 million acres of wetlands located in the southern part of Florida. That’s 2,400 square miles in total.

The park is a wonderful place for camping, fishing, biking, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking, but what about operating a drone?

The National Park Service strictly prohibits drones from accessing the Everglades[1].

That’s hardly unique to the Everglades, as all national parks across the United States under the NPS follow the same policy.

Why can’t you fly a drone in the Everglades?

The Everglades is a huge chunk of Florida to have to miss out on, but nevertheless, that’s what the NPS mandates.

Why can’t you use your drone in this national park? Let’s go over some pertinent reasons.

It’s protected

Everglades National Park is listed in the Cartagena Treaty as a specially protected area, but that’s not all.

The park is also classified as a Wetland of International Importance, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a World Heritage Site.

These protections indicate the rarity and importance of the Everglades.

By allowing drone pilots into the park to fly, the park’s ecosystem could suffer for it, degrading in quality.

Many endangered species live here

Due to the protections the park receives, the Everglades is home to many endangered and rare species.

They include the:

  • Florida panther
  • American crocodile
  • And the manatee, among others

Preserving these animals here is of the utmost importance, as without the Everglades, they may not have a place to call home and could become fully extinct. 

You risk disturbing the peace of visitors

The NPS states that annually, at least a million people from all over the country and the world come to Florida to see Everglades National Park.

We love drones here on the blog, but not everyone does. When you enter the Everglades with your drone, you risk interfering with the experiences of others.

They might not like hearing your drone because it interrupts their planned activities.

Even if your drone is whisper-quiet, the sight of it alone could perturb park visitors, leading to complaints.

That’s part of NPS’s rationale for banning drones from national parks.

Gators

As if all the reasons above weren’t valid enough, the Everglades also contain gators. That’s why you won’t see people swim in the park’s waters, as inviting as they look.

The best thing about drones is you can take them where people can’t go, including over the waters of the Everglades (you know, if it was legal to do so).

However, that would put you at risk of your drone meeting a gator.

In the great battle of drone versus gator, a drone does not win. Gators can quickly submerge your drone, breaking it, and crunch down on its various components with their scary strong jaws and pointed teeth.

Your drone would not come out in one piece if it came out at all!

Can you fly a drone just outside of the Everglades?

It’s definitely disappointing to learn you can’t fly your drone within Everglades National Park. What about outside of it?

Once you venture beyond the parameters of Everglades National Park, the NPS no longer has jurisdiction.

However, like the rest of the United States (including within the Everglades), you must follow the FAA’s rules, as they’re the leading drone authority in the country.

So, can you fly outside of the Everglades or not? Let’s take a look at what’s around the park to answer that question.

To the north of Everglades National Park is the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area. If you assumed you couldn’t use a drone there, you’d be correct.

Even if you kept venturing north near Fort Myers, you’d reach the Okaloacoochee Slough Wildlife Management Area, which also prohibits drone use.

South of the Everglades is all ocean. If you ventured southeast, you’d be in Key Largo, and further south, Key West.

As we’ve written about here, you can use a drone in Key West.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Key West?

However, you can’t fly within five nautical miles of Key West International Airport.

The entirety of Key West measures 3.997 miles or 7.209 square miles, so staying five nautical miles away from the airport when the entire island isn’t even five miles is very difficult, to say the least.

If you venture west from Everglades National Park, you’d be in the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area, which doesn’t welcome drones.

Going east from the national park puts you in Miami.

As we’ve discussed in our article on Florida drone laws (which is part of a series of drone rules across the US), Miami has a municipal law that’s been in effect since 2016.

Under this ordinance, drones cannot venture within a half-mile of events at large venues and sporting events, including the:

  • Calle Ocho Festival
  • Marlins Ballpark
  • Miami Marine Stadium
  • Bayfront Park, and more

Further, you cannot carry weapons with your drone or detachable cargo.

What happens if you get caught using a drone in the Everglades?

The NPS is not afraid to enforce its drone laws, so you don’t want to get caught using a UAV in the Everglades or any other national park.

Your crime is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of at least $5,000.

You could also spend up to six months in jail for illegal drone use and possibly face both punishments.

5 places in South Florida where you can use a drone

Although you must avoid large expanses of land by skipping Everglades National Park with your drone, you can still fly in plenty of other parts of South Florida.

Here are five of them.

1. South Pointe Park

On Miami Beach’s southern tip is South Pointe Park. You can witness Fisher Island, the skyline of Downtown Miami, cruise ships in the port, and the shoreline of South Beach.

From the park, you can reach South Pointe Beach, one of the few beaches around Miami where pilots have luck flying drones.

Although you’re allowed to use your UAV, you should still keep a respectable distance from crowds.

Plan to venture to the park and the adjacent beach earlier in the day or on weekdays versus weekends.

2. Pier Park

On Panama City Beach is Pier Park, an entertainment and shopping destination with more than 120 stores.

The park also features restaurants, a giant Ferris Wheel, an IMAX movie theater, laser tag, and a mirror maze.

You’ll have to fly your drone well overhead when piloting it around this part of Florida, keeping in mind the FAA’s limitation of 400 feet max in altitude.

3. Markham Park R/C Airfield

In Sunrise, the Markham Park R/C Airfield is a top-notch place for operating a UAV. The airfield features a paved runway that’s 755 feet long!

You will require a membership with the Academy of Model Aeronautics to use the airfield, but you’ll have access to more than 50 acres of land for flying drones and remote-controlled helicopters and planes.

The grounds feature a soda machine and restrooms, and you can use the onsite windsock!

4. Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse

On Hillsboro Beach is the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse, which was erected in 1907.

While you’re prohibited from getting too close to the lighthouse with your drone, many pilots have flown over the lighthouse, taking in its full magnificence.

5. Bayfront Park

Once known as Royal Palm Park, today, Bayfront Park is still a beloved part of Miami. Constructed in 1896, the waterfront park offers amazing views of Miami’s skyline.

While you can use your drone at Bayfront Park, there are some attractions in the area you’ll have to avoid.

The nearby Maurice A. Ferre Park is only 21 acres but contains the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the Perez Art Museum Miami, so don’t go to that park.  

Further, Bayfront Park has a lot of shows and attractions, and Miami’s local drone ordinance may prohibit you from being in the park during those times.

You should also avoid the Freedom Tower and Miami-Dade Arena with your drone.


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Everglades National Park in Florida strictly prohibits drone activity. That’s true of all national parks managed by the NPS.

While you can’t fly within or around Everglades, you can find plenty of fantastic places around southern Florida to launch. Have fun!

References:
1. Everglades National Park (link)

DJI Avata for Beginners (All You Need to Know)

Avata is a fantastic FPV drone released by DJI in August 2022 and the second of its kind.

But What is the DJI Avata? Who was created for?

The DJI Avata is a Cinewhoop drone functioning on the same principle as FPV drones created for beginners and individuals who want to fly indoors, close to people and objects, through forests, and in many places inaccessible to other drones while still maintaining the status of an FPV drone.

Avata is more than just a simple FPV drone, many drone pilots have long waited for it.

What do we know about Avata, and what essential things must we remember? We’ll answer those questions ahead!

What is DJI Avata? A detailed overview

As mentioned above, Avata is an FPV drone created by DJI. 

DJI has many drones, from beginner to professional, and search & rescue drones. 

Despite this large niche of drones DJI created, it has only two FPV drones: the DJI FPV and Avata.

After the success of the DJI FPV, which opened the opportunity for many pilots to get into flying FPV drones with ease, DJI released Avata.

Of course, DJI got into the FPV world a bit late, especially since DJI creates digital FPV VTX modules and leads the market. 

Avata is a Cinewhoop drone. What do we know about Cinewhoops?

Cinewhoops are FPV drones with specific frames constructed with duct guards around the motors and propellers to allow ease of use during indoor flights and close to people and objects with minimum risk.

Although the DJI FPV drone was created for long cinematic flights with speed and power in mind, Avata is a more specific type of drone and much safer to use. 

Of course, we can’t compare the DJI FPV and Avata drones directly, as these are two different types of FPV drones with varying viewpoints.

That said, it’s easier to start with Avata and fly it as a regular drone or in Sport Mode. Avata allows each new FPV pilot to fly this drone manually, but you must know the skill level to fly in Manual Mode.

Yes, to fly manually (in acro mode), you need to change some settings and learn how to fly FPV in simulators. 

It doesn’t take long, but having more simulator experience before flying Avata in Manual Mode in the real world is better.

How to get started with DJI Avata

To fly and enjoy the Avata, you must have the Avata drone, the FPV Remote Controller, DJI Goggles 2 (or DJI FPV Goggles v2), and optionally, the Motion Controller.

When buying, you should get what we mentioned above, except for the motion controller, unless you opted for it.

So, what are the steps to get started with DJI Avata?

  1. Updating DJI Avata firmware and setting it up
  2. Charging all the batteries and taking the drone outdoors
  3. Optionally, changing basic settings before your first flight
  4. Fly in Normal and Sport Modes
  5. Follow these steps to fly in Manual Mode or acro 

So, let’s expand this and see how you can fly this drone and what is the best approach to do it.

Step 1 – Updating DJI Avata firmware

To fly Avata for the first time, you must update the drone, remote controller, goggles, and motion controller. 

Before that, you may have to get through an activation process of the drone or binding, depending on where you bought it from and the country of registration. 

Follow the step-by-step guide on registering, activating, and updating the Avata.

Step 2 – Charging all the batteries and taking the drone outdoors

Before you fly your drone, you must charge all the batteries but don’t forget that you will need a decent battery level on the remote controller and the DJI Goggles 2 battery.

Taking it outdoors is the best approach (and in an empty field, if possible) for the first time to ensure the drone is not faulty, there won’t be any pilot errors, and for proper calibration and first-time GPS localization. 

Step 3 – Changing basic settings before your first flight

You can skip this step as it is not mandatory, but there could be a few settings to improve your Avata flight to ensure your flight quality and that the safety features are on.

For instance, we recommend you make the following changes to the default settings of your Avata:

Set the RTH altitude higher. Setting your Avata return-to-home altitude higher than the tallest obstacle is a good idea. 

I personally like to set it at around 100m to ensure the drone doesn’t smash into something when activating the RTH feature.

Remember that Avata does not have frontal sensors to avoid such crashes. Therefore, when returning home automatically, any object in front of your drone will make your Avata crash.

To update the return to home altitude, please go to Settings > Safety > RTH Altitude.

Turn on Center Point. Turning on the Center Point settings will allow you to display a small cross on the center of your screen when you fly Avata. 

This is helpful to coordinate your drone better when you fly, mainly through gaps and along the ridges, and keep the flow steady. 

Go to Settings > Camera > Center Point (Toggle On) to enable it.

Step 4 – Flying in Normal (or Sport) Mode

Taking off Avata for the first time in Normal Mode is a good approach.

Note: Do not fly directly in Manual Mode until you understand the drone’s mechanics, how it flies, turns and throttle rates, etc.

Jumping straight to flying in Manual Mode could be dangerous if you don’t have a feel for the drone in Normal Mode.

At least one flight in Normal Mode should be enough if you’re eager to fly in Manual Mode.

Step 5 – Follow these steps to fly in Manual Mode or acro

Change a few settings to fly Avata in Manual Mode for the first time.

  • Remove the spring tension of the throttle gear. You should have received a hex key with your kit, and there should be a quick guide on how to do it in the booklet.
  • Change the custom button from Sport to Manual Mode. You need to do this to switch to Manual Mode from the remote controller.

Go to Settings > Remote Controller > Button Customization > Custom Button > Manual Mode

Now you can fly your Avata in Manual Mode, but beware, flying an FPV drone in Manual Mode without prior experience is very difficult. Therefore, we strongly recommend you train in simulators.

What about flying acro mode? 

  • There is one more step to do that and freely control the drone as you wish. You need to disable the M Mode Attitude Limit.

Go to Settings > Remote Controller > Gain & Expo > Turn off Attitude Limit.

Now you can freestyle with Avata, do flips and rolls, and so on. Without disabling these settings, you could fly manually but never acro.

Is DJI Avata a good drone to start with?

DJI Avata is an excellent drone, whether you want to fly FPV or just get into flying drones for the first time. 

There are a few areas where Avata excels:

  • Avata has excellent video and radio signals, even at long ranges.
  • It also benefits from the emergency stop feature, return to home, and precision flights.
  • Avata has incredible battery life compared to standard FPV drones.
  • It’s safe to fly around people but beware that drone laws do not cover Cinewhoop drones. 
  • It offers a uniquely immersive experience of flying FPV drones.
  • Avata has excellent camera quality to film directly without needing an additional GoPro.
  • The latency between the DJI Goggles 2 and Avata is very low.

Should you choose DJI Avata (FPV) or a standard drone as a beginner?

As this is a beginner guide, first, you must ask yourself: why choose DJI Avata in the first place?

  • If you want a drone to get into flying FPV, capture unique immersive videos you cannot get with standard drones, and fly safely and in places a regular drone cannot, then go ahead and choose Avata.
  • But if you’re considering acquiring a standard drone or one that will act like a regular drone (such as DJI Mini 3 Pro) with Active Track and avoidance sensors, then Avata is not for you.

What are the pros and cons of DJI Avata?

DJI Avata has many pros and cons compared to other drones and FPVs. Let’s take a look.

DJI Avata Pros

  • The drone embraces the latest FPV VTX technology, offering you the cleanest and best image transmission of all FPV drones.
  • Avata has features not found in other custom FPV drones, such as emergency stop, return to home, easily adjustable camera angle, and much more.
  • The battery life of Avata is fantastic compared to a standard FPV drone.
  • You can fly Avata in Normal and Sport Modes on top of Manual Mode. You can get the unique experience of flying an FPV drone as a standard drone.
  • The video and radio signal is solid, and Avata can have very long flights.
  • Avata is a Cinewhoop drone. It has duct guards protecting motors and propellers, so the drone can fly safely in places where another drone cannot, such as indoors, near people, etc.
  • Avata’s camera quality is excellent, and you will not require a GoPro mounted on top of the FPV drone to have better-quality recordings.
  • Charging Avata’s batteries is easy, whereas a custom FPV drone battery is very complex and dangerous to charge and requires extra measures and experience to do it so.

DJI Avata Cons

  • Avata is not made to freestyle and is an expensive way to do it.
  • Avata’s motors are weaker than other standard FPV or DJI FPV drones, resulting in less max speed and acceleration.
  • It is expensive to buy the entire kit.
  • Flying just the Avata or DJI FPV drones when you want to learn FPV is a good choice, but you will never reach the true FPV potential and knowledge to learn about FPV drones.
  • Avata is challenging to repair independently compared to a custom FPV drone.
  • Avata’s camera is wrongfully placed, and although the drone has duct guards, a frontal impact may break the camera. You should consider a metal camera frame for Avata.
  • Even being an FPV drone, the Avata is limited by DJI like a standard drone (e.g., geofencing, VTX output power, etc.) by location, country, or state – therefore, you may never enjoy the full potential of the drone (as with a custom FPV drone).
  • The Avata is at high risk of tumbling if you take sharp turns or do aggressive freestyle.
Remote mine LiDAR surveys via the internet (drone-in-a-box)

3DroneMapping has been working hard to provide its clients, particularly in the mining sector, with a solution for rapid, high-frequency LiDAR surveys at remote sites. It was noticed particularly during COVID-19, that travel to and from difficult-to-reach sites for skilled personnel like surveyors and pilots became a challenge. As periodical surveys like stockpile report timelines are fixed, there became a great danger of delaying the data capture and end reporting due to travel restrictions or issues of cargo clearance complications.

For this reason, 3DroneMapping decided to work on a remote survey solution for repeated fixed locations.

For the past 2 years, 3DroneMapping‘s R&D division has been working with its partners in East Africa to demonstrate the financial feasibility of medical cargo deliveries via a drone platform. The study was based on a “hub and spoke” design where a central base coordinated the routings, monitored flights and liaised with ground staff at remote sites like clinics and hospitals, up to 115km away.

As radio communication with the base station and the drone was impossible due to terrain and distance, an internet-based link was designed to control and command operations. This proved highly effective and it was realized that the control link was now, in fact, limitless as the aircraft could be controlled from anywhere in the world.

From the lessons learnt in East Africa, the team quickly modified the communications link to work for survey-specific drones and LiDAR payloads. A package was designed with a CCTV camera and a weather station that would allow operators to remotely undertake surveys from anywhere in the world. All that was required locally was a brief training for mine staff on drone setup, battery charging and data upload.

In practical numbers, surveys could be undertaken as rapidly as possible. The only limitation would be data transfer and processing time. Previously, such surveys required cargo transfer, site mobilization, data capture, demobilization and equipment repatriation. Not only is there a dramatic reduction in turnaround times, but the costs are more than halved when undertaken remotely via the internet.

Such high-intensity surveys can be useful for volumetric surveys, site condition monitoring, level reports and general construction.

Vertical Aerospace reaches significant certification milestones, including Design Organisation Approval (DOA)

UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issues its first eVTOL Design Organisation Approval to Vertical
Aerospace (Vertical), underlining regulatory confidence

  • Vertical submits its certification basis proposal to the CAA for its VX4 aircraft, with technical
    familiarisations to follow shortly
  • Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) announces acceptance of VX4 validation programme; success will
    allow the aircraft to be operated in Japan
  • Vertical has now formally commenced its certification journey with four aviation regulators in the UK,
    Europe, USA and Japan

London, UK; New York, USA – March 2023 Vertical Aerospace (Vertical) [NYSE: EVTL], a global aerospace and technology company that is pioneering zero-emissions aviation, today announces further progress on its path to certification for the VX4, including securing the first ever Design Organisation Approval (DOA) issued to an eVTOL manufacturer by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Design Organisation Approval

UK and European aerospace companies cannot hold a Type Certificate without being granted a DOA. The
DOA authorises Vertical to conduct design activities and issue design approvals within the DOA’s scope
of approval. As an approved Design Organisation, Vertical will have increasing authority and privileges as
we progress through the design and certification programme of the VX4. This approval means the CAA is
satisfied that Vertical can design a safe and reliable aircraft and aviation-related products to the highest standards. This is expected to streamline the steps towards obtaining Type Certification.

The process for achieving DOA involved a rigorous assessment of Vertical’s procedures, its quality management system, the competence of its technical workforce, and the necessary facilities and equipment to support the design activities to certify the VX4 aircraft.

Certification progress

Earlier this month, the CAA announced its intention to adopt European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s
(EASA) Means of Compliance to SC-VTOL, the standards against which European and now UK manufacturers will design eVTOLs. Vertical continues working closely with the CAA on the Type
Certification of its VX4 aircraft, having recently submitted its certification basis proposal to the regulator.
Taken together, this progress provides essential regulatory clarity to Vertical on the requirements for the
development of its VX4 aircraft and further discussions will continue with the CAA in coming months,
including robust technical familiarisations. This positions the UK, alongside Europe, as a market with a clear regulatory framework for the design and manufacture of these novel electric aircraft.

Japanese validation

Vertical has also formally commenced its certification efforts in Japan, following the Japan Civil Aviation
Bureau’s (JCAB) acceptance of the VX4’s validation programme. Successful validation of the VX4’s Type
Certificate will allow the aircraft to be operated in this key market. Vertical is well-positioned in Japan, having partnered with Japan Airlines (JAL), through the placement of up to 100 VX4 pre-orders with Avolon, as well as with Marubeni Corporation for up to 200 VX4 pre-orders. In January 2023, Marubeni made a pre-delivery payment to Vertical for the reservation of its first 25 VX4 aircraft delivery slots out of the 200 VX4 conditional pre-orders. In March 2023, it was announced that Marubeni would be one of the operators of the Advanced Air Mobility showcase for the 2025 Osaka World Expo to fly with Vertical’s VX4.
JCAB formally becomes the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is working closely with, including the CAA on
Type Certification and concurrent validation with EASA and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Vertical is also in discussions with the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil on the VX4’s future validation programme. The establishment of this broad coalition of regulators will enable Vertical to deliver the VX4 into service internationally, with its airline, helicopter operator, aircraft lessor, business aviation and tourism group customers.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical’s Founder and CEO, said “I am immensely proud that Vertical is the first British
electric aircraft company in history to receive a DOA from the UK aviation regulator. This approval is a critical step forward in our mission to decarbonise air travel and bring the UK’s first electric aircraft to market.

We are grateful for the CAA’s commitment to advancing sustainable aviation, which allows us to build on
the UK’s proud aerospace tradition.”

Paul Harper, Vertical’s Head of Certification, said “Receiving a DOA from the CAA is a huge testament
to our team and the hard work we are doing to ensure safety is at the core of the VX4. It represents a
significant milestone on our journey to Type Certification and we would like to thank the CAA for their
guidance and continued support. I believe that in formally working with JCAB, as the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is committed to certifying with, we are on track for establishing the most detailed understanding of global regulators’ needs and differences for eVTOLs. This will give us a competitive edge in bringing the VX4 into service.”

Garry Lathey, Design and Certification Manager at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We are committed to enabling innovators such as Vertical take their ideas to market in a safe, secure and sustainable way. The granting of Design Organisation Approval to Vertical is an essential step on their journey bringing an eVTOL aircraft into service. It emphasises our commitment to making the UK a key destination for aviation innovators.

It’s also vital that this work has an international impact and so in all our efforts we aim to work collaboratively with other regulatory bodies around the world to support the future of eVTOL flight and maintain the high safety standards that the public expects.”

  • Vertical Aerospace’s DOA number is UK.21J.1001.
  • The type of DOA is: Small Aeroplane with eVTOL limitation
  • Vertical’s engineering design organisation is now compliant with the UK regulatory requirements of
    Part 21 Subpart J.

About Vertical Aerospace

Vertical Aerospace (NYSE: EVTL) is pioneering electric aviation. The Company was founded in 2016 by
Stephen Fitzpatrick, an established entrepreneur best known as the founder of the OVO Group, a leading
energy and technology group and Europe’s largest independent energy retailer. Vertical has focused on
building the most experienced and senior team in the eVTOL industry, who have previously certified and
supported over 30 different civil and military aircraft and propulsion systems.

Vertical’s top-tier partner ecosystem, including Rolls-Royce, Honeywell Aerospace, Leonardo and GKN
Aerospace, is expected to de-risk operational execution and its pathway to certification allowing for a lean
cost structure and enabling production at scale. Vertical has a leading pre-order book for more than 1,400
aircraft from a diverse global customer base, creating multiple potential near term and actionable routes
to market. Customers include airlines, aircraft lessors, helicopter operators and tourism groups, including
American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow, Marubeni, Iberojet and FLYINGGROUP, as well as Japan
Airlines (JAL), Gol, Air Greenland, Gozen Holding and AirAsia, through Avolon’s VX4 placements.
Vertical’s VX4 eVTOL is projected to be capable of transporting a pilot and up to four passengers, traveling distances of up to 100 miles, and achieving a cruise speed of 150 miles per hour, while producing minimal noise and zero operating emissions.

Having been issued with its Permit to Fly from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority in September 2022, Vertical’s VX4 prototype has successfully undertaken piloted flight tests. Vertical is now in the next stages of the flight test programme, which is expected to reach higher altitudes and speeds, as well as demonstrating the transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

USMC Use GA-ASI MQ-9A for Training Exercise

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is working with the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) on a series of Service-Level Training Exercises (SLTE) using a company-owned MQ-9A Unmanned Aircraft System to support the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Training Command (MAGTFTC). The SLTE 2-23 is being conducted near Twentynine Palms, Calif. with participation from Joint Forces. The training ensures participants are prepared for the future dynamic environment.

Contracting the use of MQ-9A enabled USMC to begin integrating Group 5 unmanned aircraft into the Marine Air-Ground Task Force for the first time within the various exercises. GA-ASI began flying the MQ-9A on Feb. 3, 2023, with a combination of GA-ASI and VMU-3 pilots and sensor operators. The aircraft flew out of GA-ASI’s facility at the Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., with flights over training ranges in Southwest-Continental United States (CONUS). The MQ-9A is providing its proven Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) data package – including GA-ASI’s Lynx® Multi-mode Radar – to provide the USMC with extraordinary situational awareness and simulated close air support.

“GA-ASI is always ready and willing to support the USMC exercises,” said GA-ASI Vice President of DoD Strategic Development, Patrick Shortsleeve. “We know that being able to utilize an actual MQ-9A is critical to the success of these exercises and helps the USMC ramp-up their training program.”

The SLTE Program consists of a series of exercises, including the live-fire Integrated Training Exercise (ITX), Marine Littoral Regiment Training Exercise (MLR TE), and Force-on-Force (FoF) MAGTF Warfighting Exercise (MWX). MAGTFTC executes the SLTE Program, which includes simulated and live-fire armed exercises, to enhance the readiness of the Fleet Marine Forces and support the Marine Corps’ responsibilities to national security. 

GA-ASI was contracted by the USMC in 2022 to deliver eight MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) UAS as part of the ARES Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract.

About GA-ASI

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. With more than seven million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas. For more information, visit www.ga-asi.com

Plowman Craven launches next-generation Vogel Freedom UAV survey system for rail

The UK’s first to supply survey-grade data with zero track access

Plowman Craven, one of the UK’s largest surveying companies, has launched Vogel Freedom, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) based survey system that brings a host of game-changing benefits for rail infrastructure surveying, including efficiency, safety and sustainability whilst maintaining Vogel’s class-leading Band 1 survey accuracy.

An industry milestone, the launch marks the first survey-grade solution that can survey tracks without physical access. Based on Plowman Craven’s unique IP, this accelerates the process of capturing data and converting it into client deliverables such as topographical surveys and, with 100% removal of ‘boots on ballast’, offers superior flexibility for when surveying can be undertaken. Compared with traditional methods, Vogel Freedom is:

  • 20% faster, dramatically cutting the typical labour and time-intensive track-based tasks such as the installation of ground control points. This means that mobilisation times are now faster than ever, down from weeks to days, and the programme’s speed of delivery enhances the client journey, delivering valuable data quicker;
  • 30% cheaper, reducing the need for extensive hours of work for safety critical staff, allowing work to take place during daylight hours (as opposed to midweek nights and weekend possessions) and reducing the overall time spent on site. This results in major savings across project lifecycles;
  • 85% lower carbon, due to a vastly lower number of staff needed on site. In turn, less site time means fewer shifts required across projects and reduced travel (and associated emissions) to and from sites. This is aligned with the decarbonisation targets for the UK’s rail networks and wider net zero ambitions in the UK.

Vogel Freedom enables comprehensive surveying of even the busiest and most inaccessible areas from a working height of 35 metres, with no need for manned aircraft or on-track survey teams. Rapid aerial data capture harnesses the advancement of the latest drone, survey grade sensor and geospatial technology to maintain the high quality of data required for any project size. The system uses a state-of-the-art UAV platform and 100-megapixel camera to capture overlapping aerial images of an entire site, along with post-processed kinematic GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations and precise inertial measurement information. The platform can be operated off-track during traffic hours, removing the need for possessions and line blocks and drastically reducing the exposure of workers to risk. Staff who would usually be on-site have now been moved from a high-risk and time-critical environment to desktop-based activities, thereby retaining their expertise.

This innovative new product is the next generation of the company’s Vogel R3D system, building on its capabilities with additional compelling features. The updated platform can now accurately determine its location without as many ground control points so that ground control can be off-track or even outside Network Rail’s boundaries. Since 2019, Plowman Craven has been one of only four approved suppliers on a framework agreement with Network Rail for the provision of UAV services. Network Rail manages over 32,000 km of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and many thousands of stations, signals and level crossings. By providing access to more accurate and up-to-date data, Vogel Freedom boosts the management of assets and helps to de-risk the network, as well as supporting Network Rail’s goals to lower the number of “boots on ballast”. The system is fully approved according to Network Rail Band 1 and 3 standards and feeds into the Department for Transport’s railway plan in England and Wales for the period to March 2029, known as Control Period 7 (CP7), which highlights the need for reform and the critical role of rail infrastructure in meeting passengers’ expectations and driving economic growth.

A government report released this month – ‘Pro-innovation Regulation of Technologies Review: Digital Technologies’ – features recommendations on improving regulation across several key technologies that can deliver economic benefits, which were approved in the recent Spring budget. Within that, it is estimated that the drone sector alone can contribute £45 billion to the economy (equivalent to 1.6% of the GDP) and save UK businesses approximately £22 billion annually by 2030.

Steve Jones, Head of New Business at Plowman Craven, said: “Having worked in surveying and rail for over 25 years, I have never been able to conduct a survey completely off-track until now. We developed Vogel Freedom in response to ever-increasing industry challenges and needs. It removes previous limitations to surveying and can add substantial value, particularly in the current economic climate, where cost-effective solutions have never been more important, all while improving workers’ safety and ensuring a safe and efficient rail service for customers. Since becoming the UK’s first adopter of survey-grade UAV, Plowman Craven has continued to invest in the evolution of cutting-edge technologies and, with Vogel Freedom, we enter the next generation, providing the same high-quality data faster, cheaper, more sustainably and with no track access. As ever, we consult with our clients to ensure deployment of the right solution at the right time and, as the need for surveys increases, we can also scale up our ability to provide data to clients for CP7.”

Tony Roffey, Senior Project Manager at Siemens Mobility Limited, commented: “We utilised Plowman Craven’s Vogel Freedom to undertake UAV surveys on a project, called Victoria Phase 3, initially for survey and sighting location areas and access points. We found that the data could be also used in conjunction with software for Scheme Plans. The data proved invaluable for the Location Areas sighting forms and saved ‘boots on ballast’ time as some of the work was able to be completed via desktop.”

UK Government completes review of airport ground operations to increase sector’s resilience

Ministers have agreed on ten areas for the aviation industry to focus on to address the issues with ground handling at airports seen last summer

Aim to help the aviation industry to rebuild its strength and resilience so they can deliver for passengers for years to come.

Follows an in-depth review of how the ground handling industry works and wide-ranging consultation with industry.

The Government has today (30 March 2023) set out ten areas for the aviation industry to focus on to ensure airport ground operations get back to full capacity and passengers avoid a repeat of the travel disruption seen last summer.

It concludes its review of the ground handling market, which the Government committed to as part of its wider 22-point plan for tackling aviation disruption last June.

The report finds that staffing shortages were a major factor in last summer’s disruption, with ground handlers struggling to recruit enough staff in time for the peak travel season after Covid restrictions were lifted and facing issues with onboarding processes.

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton said:

“The misery passengers faced last year when their flights were severely delayed or cancelled at the last minute was simply unacceptable.

“We’ve made it clear that improvements can and must be made, so the CAA are working closely with the industry to build a resilient ground handler market for years to come.”

Since then, the aviation industry has made significant progress to improve its resilience. To ensure this progress continues, the Government has also proposed:

Further exploration of how to improve how ground handlers’ performance is measured and monitored,
Better engagement between ground handlers and the Government, including through the new Aviation Services UK trade association,
Continued support from the Government and industry’s flagship Generation Aviation programme for recruitment, retention, upskilling and outreach,
Establishing a series of working groups involving airports, airlines and ground handlers to address areas including airport ID processes and performance standards.
Ground handlers undertake several activities including baggage handling, check in, catering and refuelling. But last year, as the industry began its recovery, companies were unable to meet demand.

Shortages of staff at airports, including drops in ground handler performance, had a domino effect on the rest of airport operations, causing delays and last-minute cancellations for passengers around the country.

While the aviation industry operates in the private sector, and is responsible for managing demand and resourcing, passengers should have confidence the Government is doing everything it can to help ahead of this summer season. With Baroness Vere meeting industry representatives to discuss Easter preparedness last week, both the private sector and the Government must move in lockstep.

By focusing on these areas, the aviation industry, the Government and CAA can build a sector that provides a world-leading service for passengers long into the future.

Ten focus areas :

  1. CAA and DfT to work with industry to encourage greater use of performance standards, collaboration and coordination to improve productivity/efficiency. 
  2. DfT / CAA will assess ICAO’s proposed changes regarding ground handling safety protocols ahead of an implementation date in July 2024 and continue to monitor safety standards in the industry. 
  3. Government will continue to work to protect consumer rights, and support industry to provide the best service possible for consumers as it rebuilds following the pandemic.  
  4. Formation of a ground handling trade association to enable better government and industry engagement.  
  5. DfT maintain dedicated resource to engage with ground handlers, representing their views in/across Government.  
  6. Government (CAA/DfT) will engage regularly with industry to examine, plan and consider actions for future resilience issues.  
  7. A pan-industry working group will consider future opportunities to adapt to future demands, for example automation and net zero requirements.  
  8. The flagship programme between Government and Industry – Generation Aviation – will continue to support the aviation industry in recruitment, retention, upskilling and outreach.   
  9. The UK has one of the most robust aviation security regimes in the world. We will ensure it reflects the changing operations of the employment market as well the challenges faced when seeking the required references when recruiting.  
  10. Airports, airlines and ground handlers will form a pan-industry taskforce to identify and deliver long term solutions at speed regarding airport ID processes to assist with onboarding.