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UK Flight Over Railway Line

Discussion in 'Certified UAV Pilots' started by Michael Morris, Oct 9, 2016.

  1. Michael Morris

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    This may be something I should already know but am I able, within the regulations of the ANO, to fly at a safe height (say 50m) over a railway line without seeking permission from Railtrack? The railway is very visible in each direction and therefore it will be easy to spot oncoming trains to avoid crossing the line. I shall be with an observer on this job. Thanks for any help given.
     
  2. The Editor

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    No.....but yes! :p

    I have done this many times. I wouldn't do it over Kings Cross or Euston station for example but over quiet rural track railways where train traffic is infrequent I have flown over the line using a spotter for safety.

    Oh, I should add these WERE NOT overhead electrified railways or centre rail type powered. If the UAV were to come down on the line it would have done no damage, could not have become entangled in any overhead lines and the spotter would have been able to retrieve it!
     
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  3. Michael Morris

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    Thanks Mark. The railway is located in rural Wiltshire which is still waiting for electricity! :) so no overhead power lines or central rail.
     
  4. The Editor

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    Take into account what would would happen if it came down in your risk assessment and what you can do to mitigate any risks (ie fly with increased speed over the line if not shot critical or only cross the line at right angles to minimise the time traversing overhead etc.)
    You should be fine.
     
  5. MacDyver

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    Hmm speeding train vs. sUAS, media hype damage will by far exceed any actual risk to lives or infrastructure hopefully additional cameras are used if the unfortunate happens, not wishing but hey
     
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  6. The Editor

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    I was thinking more if it went through the windshield. :eek:
     
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  7. Michael Morris

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    As I said earlier in the post, there is plenty of time and space to ensure no trains will be in the vicinity. Risk assessed to be very very low = 1 on RA form. Especially with extra measures taken.
     
  8. NickOfLeeds

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    add the train schedule as an appendix to the risk section of your RAMS as part of the mitigation and include directions for checking for traffic in the method statement. That way you are showing that you have adequate control of the situation, show an intention to loiter over safe ground in the event that you have to wait for a train to pass.
     
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  9. Michael Morris

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    Thank you Nick. Very sound suggestions, which I shall implement. :) Michael
     
  10. Eyeup Arial Solutions

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    Ideally fly over a section where you can readily access the UAV in the event the worse happens - a level crossing or preferably a pedestrian crossing (so no cars to worry about - as for the pedestrians though!
     
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  11. Theblacksmith

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    Hi guys. I have to say that I would personally use two spotters, both with radios, which is a bit "belt and braces" attitude, but it would certainly impress the CAA if something adverse did occur....
     
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  12. NickOfLeeds

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    So would I.
     
  13. andreweio1

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    Gentlemen,

    We work with Network Rail and it took us two years to get permission to fly under very stringent guidelines. We actually worked with Amey Plc to submit to NR the use of UAVs for aerial inspection 3 years ago, and it was only after several demonstrations to NR that they agreed there was a business benefit, but still issues a blanket ban on UAV activity over their property.

    Since then NR has now allowed a few companies to operate, we believe we are the only UK company that is allowed to fly sub 20Kgs (with very specialist equipment) and there are only 4 others who are sanctioned to fly sub 7kgs and operate standard camera systems.

    When we are to film adjacent or over their property there is a series of hoops that have to be jumped through before flights can take place, and this is onerous. Basically above all your standard flight risk assessments you then have to do a NR SSOW assessments. This needs to be submitted to all relevant parties, drivers, signalmen, operations teams etc before you can fly, and depending upon the location you may have to have personnel with the signalman down the track who you are in contact with to ensure that there are no trains transitting. Or if you are lucky the minimum is a spotter at each end of the line you want to fly over,

    Someone mentioned looking at the Network Rail timetable, but as we all know NR aren't as efficient as the Japanese yet, but that aside, there are no timetables for freight traffic which runs in-between standard commuter traffic.

    So unless you have a significant value job, it's difficult to be cost effective, as there are numerous hoops to jump through, and if you are approached by a sub contractor of NR they will know that there is a NR directive banning UAV's except from sanctioned contractors.

    Happy to discuss in more detail is someone wants to know more

    Cheers

    Andrew
     
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  14. NickOfLeeds

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    It's interesting that NR seem to believe that they own the airspace above their land.
    Of course, the reality is that they do not and that they can only specify operating procedures for people under their control. NR are not in control of the pilot of a helicopter, airliner, microlight etc any more than they are in control of balloon, kite or drone.
     
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  15. Michael Morris

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    Hi Andrew, thanks for your contribution. In fact, I can achieve pretty much what the client has specified without flying over the line, although this is a shame. The job is most certainly not worth the hassle of submitting to a NR SSOW! Cheers, Michael
     
  16. Michael Morris

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    This is a very interesting point. There are an increasing number of entities that ban overflight by UAVs without their specific approval including The National Trust and English Heritage. The concept of being able to legally access airspace anywhere that is not out of bounds by Local or Central Govt authorities needs to be increasingly supported and fought for as otherwise we shall all have problems!
     
  17. NickOfLeeds

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    Central government gave the CAA the job of defining the rules regarding airspace and its uses. Local governments have defined rules for the conduct of model aircraft pilots, and rightly so.
    I firmly believe that if an operator has been proved to have sufficient skills and knowledge to be granted a permit by the CAA, then local government should not be permitted to class PfAW/PfCO holders in the same class as model aircraft enthusiasts.
    Both the National Trust & English Heritage use drones for inspection and promotional work. Imposing a blanket ban should be done in a more responsible manner. The ban should be made applicable to non-permit holders. There should be an application process for permit holders for various take-off and landing permissions, just like applying to NATS for an NSF approval.
    The biggest problem here is that all of us independent operators are simply too small to take on the might of the large institutions and worry that becoming a letter writer may result in making oneself unemployable.
     
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  18. Theblacksmith

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    Hi Nick.
    I tend to agree with the points you have raised, and think that we definitely need to present a united front to the CAA in an endeavour for all PFAW holders to be able to have certain dispensations regarding the over-flying of certain government lands.
    As responsible pilots, I do not think that anyone would risk losing his PFAW by doing anything untoward or just plain silly.
    I am willing to sign-up to a draft proposal that would grant us certain privileges over non-qualified pilots.
     
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  19. Michael Morris

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    I entirely agree! I think the time has come to secure some sort of special privilege as qualified pilots over hobbyists. If the growing number of institutions are allowed to wrest control of airspace from the CAA, then we shall find ourselves increasingly restricted. After all, under the ANO and CAP 722 we have every bit as much right to use airspace as manned aircraft! I believe that the imposition of "No-Fly" zones should be the sole prerogative of the CAA and not set arbritarily (and illegally) by large institutions. After all, it is encumbent on us to fly according to the CAA rules and safety standards required and if not, our Permissions can be revoked. Michael
     
    #19 Michael Morris, Oct 16, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  20. Theblacksmith

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    Hi hi Mick.

    Part of my work is condition-assessments of structures to identify possible corrosion damage and potential failures of components, so a lot of my work is on bridges. In the UK there are 110, 000 bridges.
    These structures are owned by the rail authorities, county councils, Inland Waterways, Highways Agency, city councils and many are on so-called 'private' land.
    So your point regarding the permission required for the over-flying of government land is an extremely important one. I have seen and read stories of certain land-owners or people who manage areas of land being difficult and sometimes quite obnoxious.
    This can and does make it impossible to obtain written permission to undertake the mission.

    If the guys in microlights, balloons and light aircraft can over-fly these areas, then you are spot-on. We DO have the same rights as them, and as long as we keep within our maximum height and distance parameters, then we are not breaking any laws.
    Please note that I am talking about about unoccupied land here, ie no dwellings, industry or people will be over-flown or even flown within a proximity of 500 metres +.

    Surely if we can put a mandate to the CAA that we would like a ruling where we could notify these people that aerial work is going to be undertaken on a certain date, and within a specific time-frame on that date, and that no flights will take place anywhere near them, their dwellings or animals etc, we should not have to delay a mission for a month (or much longer) due to their bad attitude and awkward refusals?

    When flying in close proximity to manned ATC offices at local airports, we contact them as a courtesy to let them know what, where and when we will be flying. I have done this, and those fellows in the control towers have been very friendly and helpful.
    So perhaps we could ask the CAA if this courtesy could be extended to government land in general?

    As professional pilots, we all follow the rules strictly as laid down by the CAA, and if such a mandate was implemented (obviously with the correct wording and legal clauses included) it would make our lives a bit easier.
    I know that we do have some people in the UK at a senior level who sit on the UAV board at CAA meetings, and they lobby for us flying in various countries around Europe and they lobby for other rulings etc for professional UAV pilots.
    Perhaps somebody on this forum knows the correct person/s that we could contact? Or as Mick has stated, we could potentially end up being squeezed out of our own airspace.