London Biggin Hill Airport Case Learn about – sUAS Information – The Industry of Drones


How GuardianUTM helped London Biggin Hill Airport create an incredible safety video

When it comes to safety, Ben Spiers knows his stuff. 

He’s Head of Safety and Compliance at London Biggin Hill Airport, as well as being  Co-Chair of the Airport Operators Association  (AOA) Safety and Compliance Working Group,  and Co-Chair of the UK Wildlife Hazard Management Forum. So, it’s safe to say safety is a priority for Ben. 

When it came time to film a new safety induction video for London Biggin Hill Airport, it was important for the team to create something engaging that would help embed the ideas and values needed to keep everyone safe and compliant within the  airport.

Drones at London Biggin Hill Airport

London Biggin Hill Airport is the UK’s fastest evolving business aviation airport. Over the last decade, sustained investment in new hangars and infrastructure has  attracted global business, and there are today over 70 companies employing more than 1,400 people on the 500-acre site. 

Resident companies include Bombardier and Formula 1 – both major tech innovators employing highly skilled engineers, interns and apprentices, making  London Biggin Hill one of the biggest job creators in Bromley. 

London Biggin Hill strives to be London’s preeminent full-service business aviation airport providing its customer with a safe, discreet and rapid transfer through the airport. You might think that drone operations would be at odds with London Biggin Hill’s privacy and discretion. In fact, the team are keen to work with drone operators.

London Biggin Hill Airport UTM ready

“There’s a common misconception that drones in an airport are unsafe, but when they’re controlled and the right risk assessments are being done, they can actually be highly beneficial.
Ben Spiers, Head of Safety and Compliance at London Biggin Hill Airport

The benefits of safe drone integration led Ben and his team, in conjunction with Biggin Hill Air Traffic Control, to implement Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM platform at London Biggin Hill. Previously, drone operators had made requests to fly within the airport’s airspace by phone or email. Now, with GuardianUTM drone operators can digitally request approvals, making the process safer and more efficient.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for drone operators to request permission to fly within the ATZ (Aerodrome Traffic Zone). We want to reassure everyone that we work with drone operators, rather than against them, to ensure the safety of passengers that are travelling to and from the airport.”
Ben Spiers, Head of Safety and Compliance at London Biggin Hill Airport

Elevating safety videos

With multiple operators working out of London Biggin Hill Airport, there are plenty of people that need to be trained and vetted by the airport. Part of this process includes making sure everyone is working to the same high standard of safety, which includes watching a safety induction video, created by London Biggin Hill Airport and now endorsed by the UK CAA.

And while the video could have been shot from the ground, Ben knew that you’d get much more engagement with aerial footage.

“Shots taken from the air give people a real perspective of the airport and its entirety. We wanted to ensure that we catered for all types of learning needs and styles with a film that was both clear and engaging.” 
Ben Spiers, Head of Safety and Compliance at London Biggin Hill Airport

The team knew a drone would be a great way of getting the footage, and the videographer recommended a drone operator. 

Drone operations

“Quinton was already registered on Altitude Angel’s platform, so we could see his pilot ID and flight history. Quinton also had one of the highest approvals you can get with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) so we felt confident we would get the  footage we needed.”
Ben Spiers, Head of Safety and Compliance at London Biggin Hill Airport

The pilot in question was Quinton Quayle, who since 2017 has been running a drone services business. 

“There are many serious applications for drones: to inspect buildings, surveys, thermography, 3D modelling, mapping, that sort of thing. Then there’s the fun element: using the drone as a floating camera, enhancing it with handheld cameras, and a bit of animation to make content for people.” Quinton Quayle, Director at Quayle Industries Ltd

Quinton actively seeks enhanced permissions to provide better services to his clients. This means that he can fly higher than the drone code usually permits (up to 750 feet) as well as extended line of sight operations. And, because Quinton uses Altitude Angel’s drone planning tools, Ben could see that he had plenty of  experience, including within other Flight Restricted Zones (FRZs).

Aerial photo of Biggin Hill with Airfield Safety Vehicle

“I’ve been using Altitude Angel’s planning tools since I started operating commercially. They feature very heavily in my planning and are a good way for me to quickly risk-assess the airspace before I start a flight. I like the fact that they give me the ability to quickly see air and ground hazards. I find it a nice robust system. Easy to use, and I swear by it.”
Quinton Quayle, Director at Quayle Industries Ltd

Quinton’s use of Altitude Angel’s Drone Assist and Operator Portal meant planning and approving his flight was easy. 

Elevating airport operations

London Biggin Hill’s new safety induction video is far more interesting, far more engaging, and far more effective thanks to Ben and Quinton’s work. It goes to show how drones can be a real benefit to airports, and Quinton hopes it will help more airports see what they can do with drones. 

London Biggin Hill Airport have used Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM to improve safety and efficiency in their approvals process.

Watch an extract from the video here:

London Biggin Hill Airport Video

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