An Incredible Agenda at the DSR Professional Members Meeting

June 19th saw Drone Safe Register bringing together industry experts along with more than one hundred of its members at Gatwick Aviation Museum for a second business meeting, building on the success of the last meeting in September 2018

DSR Professional Members meeting June 2019
Photography by Nigel Bowles at John Connor Press Associates Ltd

The venue, Gatwick Air Museum, lies meters away from the end of the runway at Gatwick Airport and was deliberately chosen on this occasion for that reason. There have been significant consequences to the commercial drone services sector following the events of a drone incursion at Gatwick Airport last December and then again at Heathrow a few weeks later – both events now being criminally linked.

The words Gatwick and Drone have up until now only been used in narratives in a negative way, and so it seemed appropriate as DSR continues with its message of “Drones for Good” to setup camp here at the museum for its professional members meeting. In seeking answers and explanations, DSR welcomes Andrew Hamilton and Kevin Woolsey from the CAA UAS unit and Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, Gold Commander for the Gatwick incident and head of Armed policing for Sussex and Surrey, to talk to members about the Gatwick incident as well as other subjects.

Guest speakers at this level are what sets DSR apart, and we were thrilled to host these guys at our members’ business meeting. Using this venue, situated meters from the end of Gatwick Runway was important as we wanted to deal candidly with the consequences of the drone incident at Gatwick last year and the knock-on effect it has had in the commercial sector for drone hire services.

Many of our members have reported a downturn in enquiries as well as an increased anti-drone feeling among the general public, with others citing an increase in verbal abuse and hostility since Gatwick. It’s important for DSR to help separate the facts from the fiction and continue with our own narrative that drones, in the right hands and flying with the correct permissions, are a force for good

Mark Boyt CEO Drone Safe Register

Gatwick Air Museum
DSR CEO Mark Boyt

As well as hearing the latest news and plans for Drone Safe Register concerning DSR’s activity with Major National Accounts, members heard from industry experts and insurance professionals Coverdrone and Qlaims along with teams from Yuneec and iRed providing workshop and product expertise and an overview about Commercial Drone Professional magazine by Alex Douglas.

However, it is clear from the response and feedback we have received that the candid, insightful and informative talks from the CAA UAS team and Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw regarding the events both during and six months after the Gatwick incident are what have got everyone talking.

The CAA team of Andrew Hamilton (UAS Sector Lead) and Kevin Woolsey (UAS Policy Lead) rolled up their sleeves for an hour and half Q&A session fielding many questions from those in the room as well as from around the country.

Topics such as the Gatwick drone incursion last year, EASA harmonisation, recent regulatory legislation and the November drone registration requirement – to name just some of the subjects we were fortunate enough to learn about from the horse’s mouth!

CAA Andrew Hamilton and Kevin Woosley
CAA Kevin Woosley

Following the CAA panel, we had the company of Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw Gold Commander for the Gatwick incident and head of armed policing for Sussex and Surrey.

Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw Gold Commander for the Gatwick incident
Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw head of armed policing for Sussex and Surrey

I have to say, that I was not sure how this would go – commented Steve Fisher (DSR Business Development and Communication).

I remembered standing next to him on 19th December last year at Gatwick Airport on the first day of the incident, as we both were giving interviews to the world media – he significantly more than me to be clear! I listened to a man who was clearly not just responding to a major unprecedented incident but a media feeding frenzy and an irate general public and I got the impression that no one knew what was going on, it looked like chaos.  So, to learn first-hand at our meeting the full story and events as they unfolded, and the truly complex nature of what he and his officers had to deal with over those few days has completely changed my whole thinking on that sorry episode. I wasn’t even sure there was a drone t be honest, but now I am left in no doubt that there was, and that this was a deliberated coordinate attack, both at Gatwick and Heathrow”.

– Steve Fisher DSR Business Development and Communication

When Justin started his talk with “when you get a direct phone call from the Prime Minister, you know you are going to have a bad day!” we all felt that we were in for a treat” 

“The talk followed by a Q&A, was extremely informative, candid and insightful and we thank Justin for affording us his time and presenting in such a personal, approachable and often humorous way.”  

Graham Degg DSR Director of Safety.

The rest of the afternoon was given over to hands on workshops from iRed regarding thermal imaging, sessions on colour grading with Adam and Alex from Echo Alfa, and photography tips and tricks from Jessops.

There was only one last thing to do before we packed up at Gatwick Air Museum and that was to fly some drones and get some great footage of planes taking off and landing from a few meters away from the end of the runway….

No, we are not making some kind of bad and inappropriate joke, far from it! We started this article by stating that since Gatwick drones have had a bad press and by holding our meeting here in Gatwick we wanted to show that drones in the right hands with the right permissions, can be flown safely. So by following a properly formatted Operating Safety Case, written and thought out by Graham Degg our Director of Safety, and seeking out the correct appropriate permissions from all connected parties and authorities, we did just that – fly drones just a handful of meters from the end of Gatwick runway – and as they say, ‘don’t try this at home, leave it to the professionals.’

Drones at the end of Gatwick Runway