The time taken for a loved one to receive chemotherapy treatment…  Vital seconds lost to the cold water of someone in need of rescue at sea….  That special moment of receiving a parcel from someone who cares….  The anticipation of meeting an old friend after a long journey…   

At the heart of these stories are organisations like the NHS, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal Mail, and Network Rail, working to bring us those often-invisible things that we couldn’t live without.  

As we relentlessly place increasing demands on what our planet can provide for us, these companies need to work faster, more reliably and with greater accuracy. Technology is helping them to do that, and one particular technology is proving to be game changing – the drone.  

No longer a future concept, drones are now being used to deliver medical care, search for those lost at sea, reduce crime, keep critical infrastructure safe, monitor the environment, and much more. 

These uses are still limited in scope, though, as aviation regulation needs to be developed to support the everyday application of advanced drone flight.  As this takes shape, we at NATS are working with drone companies, innovators like Apian and Skyports, embarking on missions to deliver critical medical aid to NHS patients; Bristow, using drones as part of a flying team with their search and rescue helicopters for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and, enabling drones to survey and inspect the nation’s electricity grid. 

Working together, we published a white paper, ‘South of the Clouds’ which sets the scene for a culture of safety in the drone industry and lays out what needs to be done to enable the everyday application of advanced drone flight.   

And now, we’ve joined forces with the Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to shape government policy and help develop the regulation this industry needs.  

This meeting of agencies highlights a shared resolve to elevate the use of drones from potential to practice.  The aim is to transform the once-futuristic concept of drone-powered services into an everyday reality, to give us all more of that precious commodity – time – when we need it most. 

We’re excited to be sponsoring the keynote stage at the DroneX conference and trade show next week, where we’ll be unveiling our vision for lowering barriers for new air space users and creating an airspace for everyone who wants to fly any type of aircraft – including those with no pilot onboard. 

We hope you can join us on 26th & 27th September at London’s EXCEL centre for what I’m sure will be an exciting event. 


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