University of Nottingham

Record Breaking Channel Crossing - by UAV


On 16 February our friend Richard Gill from Ocuair became the first pilot to fly a multi-rotor Unmanned Aerial vehicle, more commonly known as a drone, across the English Channel.

The popularity of drones is growing rapidly among commercial and leisure users. However, most drone operators have to work within the limitations of a 20 minute battery life, which is no match for the Channel! To attempt the crossing, Ocuair needed to design and build a specialist endurance aircraft capable of flying for up to 90 minutes across 35km of water. The eventual result was a matching pair of Enduro-1 quadcopters.

All flights need to have approval, and in this case the team at Ocuair had to get approval from both the UK CAA and the French DGCA for the crossing. Once that has been sorted out, approval from the weather had to be granted. So while storms Abigail to Imogen made the attempt impossible, flights testing took place over land. Sadly, only one of the Enduro-1 aircraft made it to the beach at Cap Gris Nez on the 16th of February. The worry was that if anything happened to the remaining aircraft, it would disappear beneath the waves and months of hard work would have been in vain.

Just 72 minutes and 35km after take-off, on a beach near Dover, the Royal Aeronautical Society were able to confirm from GNSS records that the crossing had been made and an endurance record had been set.

It was nice to see that Nottingham Scientific Ltd who have a long association with GRACE supplied the GNSS navigation equipment for the crossing.

For more information and pictures of the crossing, visit the company website or their Twitter @Ocuair


ocuair first drone

Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2016


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