Aerial surveys using Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS)

BUG has Permission for Commercial Operations for conducting aerial survey work with Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones. We currently have a fleet of four drones which are used for a range of purposes, from assessing archaeological digs to mapping of species and habitats.

As technology advances, drones are fast becoming a quick and cost-effective way to collect large amounts of high resolution aerial mapping data that until recently was prohibitively expensive; particularly for smaller projects. Aerial surveys using planes, although cost-effective for larger areas (e.g. offshore wind farms and extensive coastal surveys), are rarely economically viable for smaller projects, due to the costs associated with ‘getting the plane off the ground’.

In contrast, with a suitably qualified and trained operator, drone surveys can provide a very cost-effective option for smaller scale projects, where aerial surveys can provide valuable data beyond that which can be obtained on the ground. BUG has the qualifications and expertise to provide a wide range of aerial survey services, including:

 

  • Habitat surveys across terrestrial, aquatic and intertidal ecosystems
  • River habitat and restoration surveys
  • Baseline aerial imagery for construction projects
  • Species monitoring
  • Vegetation surveys

 

Click here for an example orthomosaic of a length of the River Frome in Dorset. This imagery was captured at an altitude of 50 m, with a ground resolution of 2.1 cm/pixel. NOTE: This survey was conducted during January, with sub-optimal light conditions. Orthophotography image quality is generally higher during summer months, with brighter conditions and less shadowing.

How can BUG help?

BUG is an approved drone operator, with Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This is a requirement for any operators wishing to use drones commercially within the UK, and evidence should be sought by the client before any flight activities can be legally undertaken.

With regard to the safe use of drones for conducting aerial surveys, BUG has everything in place to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for data collection and image post-processing:

 

  • Permission for Commercial Operations.
  • CAA approved drone pilots.
  • Comprehensive SUAS (drone) Operations Manual and Risk Assessment protocols.
  • In-house geoinformatics suite for image post-processing.

For an informal discussion on any aerial survey requirements