UK-Based Drone Firm Receives BVLOS Waiver for Offshore Construction Inspections

Aerial drone surveillance has emerged as a low-cost and highly efficient way to enhance the inspection of construction sites.  In fact, some surveys suggest that construction is the fastest growing commercial niche for drones after real estate.  But most aerial construction inspections are still hampered by the aircraft’s limited battery power as well as the need for ground observers to monitor flight safety.

In recent years, some US-based drone companies have received special FAA waivers to make their inspection flights on a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) basis with enhanced battery endurance.  But the practice is not yet widespread.

HexCam, a commercial drone operator based in Great Britain, is hoping to pioneer BVLOS construction inspections in the UK.  Its current focus is on offshore sites that are especially difficult and expensive to reach with field surveyors.  The company has worked for three years with a large construction concern, J. Murphy & Sons, on aerial surveys of the company’s sites along a single onshore portion of the Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone (NWOZ).

Earlier this year, HexCam became one of six UK firms selected by the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to participate in a “sandbox” trial scheme intended to make BVLOS drone inspection flights the norm, rather than the exception.

In the short term, Hexcam hopes participation in the trials will allow the company to extend the length and duration of its inspection flights in the NWOZ.

“We used to be limited to flying out just 500 meters from where we were standing. Then we’d have to pack everything down, relocate by 950m along a corridor, and do it all again,” says Hexacom director Rowley Cory-Wright.

With BVLOS authority, HexCam will be able to fly out to 2,500 meters and can shift to a new operational system that allows flight control to be passed between two pilots, resulting in huge efficiency gains.

“We can now complete the western third of the corridor in about six hours, from only seven take-off and landing sites,” Rowley Corey-Wright says.

HexCam is also working with its UAV supplier, StirlingX, to develop a fixed-wing aircraft that will replace its current quadcopter surveillance drone.  The new aircraft, dubbed “Sparrow Hawk,” will allow for longer flights and fewer interruptions, further enhancing the efficiency of its aerial inspections.

HexCam has already begun the first short-range test flights with the Sparrow Hawk along the onshore portion of the NWOZ corridor.  Longer-range flights will commence in the next few months, Cory-Wright says

“The ultimate goal is to fly a fixed-wing drone…along the [entire] corridor, carry out a survey, then fly back and land [at our home base].”  With a fixed-wing drone operating more freely, the survey work will be “quicker, safer and less obtrusive for landowners,” he notes.

This is not HexCam’s first foray into aerial drone surveillance.  The Norwich-based firm also conducts environmental monitoring along the Norfolk coast to detect erosion patterns and to deter cliff falls.

The 12-year old company has also worked closely with the Nottingham City Council, and a private concern, Innovation Gateway, to conduct award-winning thermographic surveys to detect energy loss in low-income housing projects.

With just a half-dozen employees, and a single base in East Anglia, HexCam is fast becoming a recognized UK drone pioneer.

ABOUT US: is a Nationwide Media Company specializing in custom Drone Videos for real estate, commercial, farms, construction, golf courses, roof inspections and more. All of our Drone Operators are fully licensed and insured. When you purchase a Drone Video Package from us, you will receive a video professionally edited, color corrected and presented to you on an SEO-Friendly webpage that you can easily share online and on Social Media with a click of a button. Click here to get started.

Previous Drone News:

Start Your Order
We Offer a Variety of Drone Video Packages
to Fit Your Needs and Budget