Understanding what Visual Line of Site (VLOS) is for use in drone surveys and inspection work.

The abbreviated term VLOS may only be four letters but it is of vital importance for the drone inspection work we provide for our customers. Much in the same way that VFR (Visual Flight Rules) is applied to manned aircraft, VLOS forms part of the regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for piloting an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for drone inspection work.

By their nature, unmanned aerial vehicles do not have the pilot on board, rather they are controlled by remote control piloting. This means that a drone pilot/operator must always maintain visual line of sight on the drone during inspection flights. This line of sight must be unaided or enhanced using the likes of binoculars or thermal night vision goggles (for example).

building and roofing insurance claims using drone inspection

VLOS is one of the most important rules in drone flight and is not reserved just for commercial drone services. VLOS rules apply for both commercial drone surveys and private/recreational drone use.

Potential Obstructions

Visual Line of Site is important and the pilot must keep constant observation on the drone mid flight, regardless of what obstacles may be in the flight path. This includes:

  • Buildings
  • Trees
  • Hills
  • Bridges
  • Clouds
  • Fog

Why is visual line of site so important?

There are four crucial considerations that require VLOS mid flight. It allows the pilot to monitor the drones location in relation to its surroundings, is used to help determine altitude and monitor for potential hazards such as trees, flock of birds, kites, powerlines etc. This is all to ensure that the drone does not pose a risk to property, pedestrians or vital workplace assets.

VLOS Distances

VLOS distances vary for a number of reasons. The larger the drone, the easier it is to see further away. A calm, clear day will allow you to see the drone for further than if it was a grey overcast afternoon. Even the drone pilots eyesight can vary the distance of VLOS. This is where pilot judgement is required to take into considerations the unique surroundings at the time.

About Balmore

We are fully accredited by ARPAS-UK, and our drone inspection pilots all have their commercial PFAW pilots licence, fully approved by the CAA. This allows us to conduct our drone surveys both in the air and underwater to the highest of standards while following strict rules and regulations governing drone flights in public spaces including Visual Line of Sight rules.

The visual inspection of building structurespower linesroad and rail networksbridges and communication towers (to name just a few) is critical for safety, insurance, performance and operational purposes. Visual inspections of key assets using drones ensure that these vital infrastructure, transportation links and energy generating systems are operating efficiently and to strict safety guidelines.

Periodic visual inspection of these vital assets using scheduled drone surveys can identify developing issues early. This can allow businesses to schedule repairs and maintenance into other planned operational maintenance plans so that work is carried out at ideal times that minimise disruption. This method of planned inspection has considerable cost saving benefits both to the cost of repairs and to the reduced financial losses through less operational downtime.

As part of The Balmore Group, we are an industry leader in not just unmanned survey and inspections but also in providing life asset maintenance services from initial inspection, repair and specialist cleaning of high-value assets. Operating in various sectors including EnergyUtilitiesInfrastructure and Commercial Business on land, sea and in the air.

At Balmore, we offer the expertise of four decades in difficult access works, roofingrope accessindustrial cleaning and drone inspection services.

To find out more about our drone inspection services, please contact our Glasgow head office today by calling 0141 370 4037 or email info@balmore-ltd.co.uk