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28 Nov 2018

New ISO Standards for Drones are welcome, but Training will be ALL

Cambridge UAV Academy D20

A disruptive technology that is readily available encourages people to use it immediately, without thinking of the consequences...” Alan Perrin, Chief Instructor and UAV Pilot at Cambridge UAV Academy


The first Worldwide Standards for the Drone Industry issued 21.11.18 by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) are “Simply not enough!”

A disruptive technology that is readily available encourages people to use it immediately, without thinking of the consequences...”

 Alan Perrin, Chief Instructor and UAV Pilot at Cambridge UAV Academy

  • The ISO standards will guide how drones are used safely and effectively in a framework of regulatory compliance for both casual and commercial use. Over 76,000 drones could be in the UK skies in 12 years’ time1, all of which must follow these guidelines
  • PWC1 predicts the UK drone industry will bring £42 billion and 628,000 jobs to the UK by 2030. Goldman Sachs estimates drones will be a $100Bn global market by 2020

28th November 2018 [LONDON] As Christmas approaches, thousands of people across the UK will purchase a drone amid a technological phenomenon with an endless range of uses and purposes. In 2017, the CAA estimated that 1.5 million drones were bought during the Christmas period3. Drones are being used to film dramatic landscapes, identify crime suspects and fly medicines to remote locations, and their use is expected to increase year on year. 

Yet, most of this growth in drone use will be seen amongst industry, rather than consumers. Alan Perrin, who runs Cambridge UAV Academynotes, “We’ve noticed a paradigm shift in terms of who we are training: companies are now investing in up-skilling staff to ensure they have in-house drone capability for deploying wherever and whenever needed. Beforehand, we were training more hobbyists and sole operators who wanted to fly drones commercially.”

It is illegal to fly a drone for commercial purposes unless The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted the user permission in the form of a PfCO (permission for commercial operations). Cambridge UAV Academy runs courses involving two days of classroom training followed by a practical flight assessment held at its airfield. Those who pass can subsequently obtain their PfCO. (NB This permission is often incorrectly referred to as a ‘license’.) As yet, nobody has been jailed in the UK for unsafe flying of a drone, yet sentences could reach up to 5 years in prison. Drones are being confiscated and fines of up to £5,000 can be levied. 

Alan Perrin, who runs the Academy based on over 20 years’ experience flying drones, notes, “We welcome the ISO standards, but far more education is still needed. Although the CAA has its own well thought-out regulations and the ‘Drone Safe’ initiative, our recent undercover research confirms that worryingly misleading advice is still being given to purchasers of drones on the high street, with little or no mention of legal requirements or even common safety advice about operating a drone. A disruptive technology that is readily available encourages people to use it immediately, without thinking of the consequences.”


The new ISO guidelines are heavily focused on air safety, which is understandably at the forefront of public attention, given recent media coverage of a near-miss between a drone and a police helicopter on-call. Concerns over flying in precarious and sensitive locations, such as densely populated public areas, are addressed via the new standards, which promote and reinforce compliance regarding no-fly zones, separation distance and local regulations. They also address operational requirements of the more recognised and prevalent drones, including protocols on safety, security and overall ‘etiquette’ for their use. The new standards will therefore shape regulation and legislation going forward2. 

Their effectiveness will be further strengthened by the rapid development of geo-fencing and of counter-drone technology, providing frontline protection against ‘rogue’ drone use. Alan Perrin will be a speaker at the International Security Expo on the 29th November at Olympia, London, where he will present how to use drones legally, and discuss the need for qualifications. 


Such is the potential for safe drone flying that a PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ 2018 report1 on the market estimates £42 billion will be added to the UK economy in the next 12 years by drones, involving sectors that span wholesale, retail, education, defence and health. The public sector alone is set to use more than 76,000 drones by 2030. Elaine Whyte, UK Drones Leader at PWC, says, “I envisage that the advantages of drone technology will be well established within the decade - not only for business purposes, but also for helping to protect our society, for example, through being used by the emergency services. There is a need for current UK drone regulation to advance.” High quality training will therefore be a crucial factor in achieving such exciting possibilities.


  1. https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/pwc-uk-drones-report.html
  2. https://www.caa.co.uk/News/Drones-flying-high-with-1-5-million-to-be-sold-this-Christmas;-CAA-reminds-users-of-the-need-to-follow-safety-rules/
  3. https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/iso-issues-drones-standards-2018-11/


Alan Perrin, Chief Instructor & Assessor at CUAVA 


Cambridge UAV Academy (CUAVA) is a UAV ground and flight school that helps drone operators achieve the qualifications they need to operate professionally. CUAVA was set up by experienced drone operators to meet demand for well-trained, legally compliant commercial pilots. CUAVA is a full National Qualified Entity (NQE) and is approved to run courses by the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA requires anyone wishing to operate a UAV for commercial gain to hold the CAP-C certificate or its equivalent before applying for Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO). CUAVA instructors are also seasoned professional pilots, with a wealth of commercial experience, both on the ground and in the air, to pass on to their students. 

Web www.cuava.co.uk  Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cambridgeuavacademy/

Twitter https://twitter.com/CUAVAcademy


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