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April 2017

Aerial Drone filming photography and surveying of railways in Cumbria Lancashire and the Lake District

Drones improving maintenance of the rail network

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Modern railways, such as the West Coast mainline, which runs through Lancashire and Cumbria (Preston, Lancaster, Carnforth, Oxenholme, Penrith & Carlisle) present complex challenges to engineers, safety officers and maintenance teams. The speed and flexibility of drones offers solutions to emerging challenges.

Commercial drone UAV operators such as Hovershotz, now provide a range of services to assist railway operators, and those companies are also considering employing their own in-house drone teams. Network Rail, for example, of the Department for Transport that owns Britain’s railway infrastructure, uses drones to assess tracks and gather data for analysis. It is possible to use camera drones to film, video, photograph and survey railway infrastructure.

Fifty years ago the UK’s rail network began to change (thanks to Dr Beeching). Steam gave way to diesel and electric, and with the new rolling stock came high-tech track points, overhead cables and enhanced safety features. Several lines across Cumbria and the Lake District closed – Bolton Loop, Brampton Railway, Carlisle & Silloth Bay Railway, Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway, Corkickle Brake, Eden Valley Stainmore Railway, Lowca Light Railway Railway, Port Carlisle Railway Railway, Rowrah & Kelton Fell Railway, Solway Junction Railway.

The innovations and complexity of the systems and equipment that continue to upgrade services for passengers demands regular attention. Drones are proving to be a valuable addition to the teams that service the lines, depots and remote facilities every day. Aerial drone photography filming and surveying is a welcome tool for rail maintenance in Cumbria, Lancashire and the Lake District.

UAVs perform come rain or shine

One of the key benefits of utilising small unmanned surveillance aircraft is that they are now capable of operating in conditions that are potentially dangerous to human operatives.

Why send a team of overhead technicians up wet and slippery equipment when a drone can assess the situation quicker, safer and without the need to load up bulky clothing and protective equipment? All that is required is a camera drone and skilled operator.

Assessing damage to power lines, conductors and tension wires can be done in a fraction of the time it takes to deploy one or more engineers. Images captured by drone cameras can be relayed real-time to ground or office-based experts to make the key decisions about commissioning repair work.

Crucially, if safety allows, using UAVs to inspect railways means that passenger lines can be kept running. The alternative could mean fines for operators when scheduled services are cancelled. If the work was hazardous, services might have to be suspended to keep workers safe. Using drones avoids this.

With improved airborne monitoring and positioning now possible, drones can also fly close to tracks to check rail integrity, bridges and foreign objects that have been reported by drivers. This can be done much quicker than getting vehicles and personnel to isolated and hard-to-access areas.


Hovershotz EVLOS Blea Tarn Langdale Lake District Cumbria Aerial photograph by drone

Hovershotz gain Extended Visual Line of Sight EVLOS aerial drone permission from the CAA a first for Cumbria & the Lake District

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Hovershotz aerial drone photography video & inspections are delighted to announce that  have received permission from the CAA Civil Aviation Authority, to fly Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS). We believe that Hovershotz are the first and only drone operator in Cumbria & the Lake District to gain the authorisation.

This means when following certain conditions Hovershotz can fly out to a range of 1500 metres and a height of 500 feet above ground level. Almost all other UK companies are restricted to operating up to 500 metres and 400 feet.

This is great news for our customers, helping save both time and money and also meaning Hovershotz can now carry out tasks other Cumbrian drone operators are simply unable to complete! It also sets Hovershotz apart from any other commercial drone operator in Cumbria, the Lake District & Lancashire in being authorised to not only fly EVLOS but also having night flying permission, making Hovershotz the top professional drone operator in Cumbria, Lancashire & the Lake District.

This will be of particular benefit to our clients in the film making, news media and surveying industries. Hovershotz – now the first choice for professional aerial drone photography, videos & Inspections across the North West of England.

Another example of how Hovershotz leads where our competitors follow.

Hovershotz are a professional aerial drone photographer

Hovershotz commercial drone service Cumbria Lancashire Lake District NW & NE

Aerial Wind Turbine Inspections & Surveys by Drone Cumbria Energy Coast

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys in the Lake District. | No Comments

Drones and Wind Turbine Inspections: The Lowdown


Wind turbines are pretty massive, right? We’re talking about structures bigger than Nelsons Column. That’s pretty big.


Plus, there are all of those rotating blades that look pretty intimidating. To go anywhere near them for inspection, you need to switch them off – and that costs a lot of money. But let’s face it, no sane engineer is going to go anywhere near those super-strength blades until they’re safely stationary.


There are so many wind turbines, and they keep springing up everywhere on the landscape. For good reason, too: they produce effective green energy. As of March 2017, in the UK there are 7,250 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 14.6 gigawatts: 9,512 megawatts of onshore capacity and 5,098 megawatts of offshore capacity. Many of these wind turbines are sited on the Cumbrian energy coast on the edge of the English Lake District national park.

That’s a lot of maintenance, and a lot of shut-down time.


The solution – Send In The Drones!


An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is able to reach the dizzying heights of a wind turbine  and – in the hands of a skilled pilot from a professional licenced drone operator – reduce or negate any operational shutdown required for a routine inspection.


We’re not kidding you: an inspection that would take hours or even days with a serious amount of safety gear and some brave, brave souls indeed can actually take mere minutes with a drone. A UAV can be launched in minutes, flown to the structure, and deliver real-time high definition footage to an inspection team safely planted on the ground below.


The detail picked up by on-board cameras is minute – even hairline cracks are possible to spot. The ability to review, slow down, and replay footage means highly detailed inspections can be carried out to identify problem areas, common difficulties, or regular maintenance requirements. Now you only need to send the engineer up the drone to actually fix it (drones don’t quite do that… yet), instead of spending a lot of time on the initial inspection AND the repair.


Offshore Wind Farms And Drones


‘What about offshore wind turbines? Surely they can’t operate in harsh marine environments?’ TO this we say: we think that rock you’ve been hiding under probably needs a spring clean by now. Marine drones are not just a reality, they’re already in use by the most savvy offshore engineers!


Designed for the difficult environment presented by offshore inspections, marine specific drones can operate in high winds, varied air pressure, and not be affected by salt corrosion. Yet they also still deliver the high quality inspection footage that you’d find on any land-based wind turbine. If anything, marine drones for wind turbine inspections are the leaders of the pack, as they save even more money: your engineer crew won’t need to be shipped to each turbine for inspection and then spend hours rigging up with safety gear. As long as the drone pilot and his assistant are planted on a boat within regulation distance of the UAV, you can inspect as many offshore wind turbines as you like from one spot.


Drones: The No-Brainer For Wind Turbine Inspections


Without the need to physically climb a structure, time is saved. Without the need to rig up safety gear, time is saved. Without the need to move at a human pace, time is saved. Without the need for… you get the picture. Time is money, people! Save time, save money, and produce more regular maintenance checks without increasing your budget. Drones aren’t the future: they’re the now.

Hovershotz aerial photography video & inspections are experienced in surveying wind turbines across the North West of England in Cumbria Lancashire & the Lake District. We hold full CAA permission for commercial operation to operate during the day and even at night. The leading professional drone & UAV company in Cumbria

Hovershotz commercial drone service Cumbria Lancashire Lake District NW & NE

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