Latest drone development could aid construction

By Mike Hayes21 April 2021

Trials of UAV flights ‘Beyond Visual Line of Sight’ are given the green light in the UK

Flying complex drone missions from a central control room, a developer of command and control solutions for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, has been authorised to trial a concept for flying UAVs beyond visual line of sight.

Up to this point, drones have had to remain within line of sight of operators, potentially hampering their benefits to the construction industry.

Now, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given permission for trial flights to take place at three nominated sites. If the trials prove successful, says, the door could be opened for wider approval for beyond visual line of sight (BVLS) flights.

During the trials, the drones must remain at altitudes of under 46m, initially with an observer remaining in sight of the machine, who can report back to the remote pilot if necessary.

According to, the tests will include drones undertaking routine inspection and monitoring of selected industrial sites.

Working with the CAA, technology companies such as are aiming to improve safety with solutions including automatic detection and avoidance systems.

Data gathered from the trial flights will be used to inform risk and hazard assessments and potentially identify whether or not the system could be taken forward to more challenging flight scenarios.

John McKenna, CEO at said, “We are accelerating towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale – high up alongside manned aviation and low down inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities.

“Securing this UK-first permission is a major step on this journey which will deliver big benefits to society across public health & safety, efficiency and environmental impact. We are hugely grateful to the CAA’s innovation & regulatory teams for their support and guidance in helping us reach this significant milestone and we look forward to working with them as we continue to advance what’s safe and possible.”

David Tait, Head of Innovation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said, “Our innovation team was set up to meet the rapid pace of technological advances in the UK, so to see businesses like thriving and creating world-leading solutions that will benefit infrastructure and markets is really exciting.”

Delivered directly to your inbox, Construction Technology Newsletter features the pick of the breaking news stories, product launches, show reports and more from KHL's world-class editorial team.
Latest News
How technology can advance modular construction
Modular construction can play a role in the industry becoming more sustainable, and tech can turbocharge this process, says Eva Carranza, Hexagon’s Global Director ESG & Sustainability
Rapid tech adoption and optimism at heart of global construction
KPMG survey reveals sector’s increased takeup of robotic process automation, virtual reality, project management information systems (PIMS), drones, smart sensors and AI
B2W Software expands alerts and notifications capabilities
New features from a Trimble company lets contractors communicate automatically and in real time
Andy Brown Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786224 E-mail:
Mike Hayes Editor, Construction Europe Tel: +44 (0)1892 786 231 E-mail:
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail:
Eleanor Shefford Sales Manager Tel: +44 (0)1892 786236 E-mail: