Drones were trialled for the first time this summer to assist with search and rescue operations. The trials were carried in Wales. They demonstrated the use of an Elbit Systems UK Hermes 900 drone which carried cameras that re-laid footage on incidents to the staff so they could deploy the best response for the scenario allowing the helicopters to remain on the ground for longer.
Flying in an unsegregated and uncontrolled civilian space Beyond Line of Sight in alignment with UK's Civil Aviation Authority but also looked at how larger long range drones could be used in civilian air space usually occupied by commercial aircraft Marritime minister Kelly Tolhurst believes that drones have the ability to help save even more lives was excited to pioneer new technology to assist with rescue operations. The director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes further commented:
We continue to do all we can to use existing technology as well as looking to the future in our on going work of saving lives at Sea. Remotely piloted aircraft continue to be a big part of that work both to potentially save lives in search and rescue and protect our beautiful coastlines from the worst effects of pollution. Unlike crewed aircraft drones are being used for SAR missions as they can stay in the air for longer. The Hermes 900 can stay airborne for 36 hours and is equipped with a search and rescue specific radar and an Automatic Identification System, Electro-Optical / Infra red payload, Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon and full satellite communication suite.
Elbit Systems UK CEO Martin Fausset said:
“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to
show case our enhanced search and rescue capabilities to the MCA. The Hermes 900 is perfectly equipped to deal with the needs of Maritime and Coastguard Agency and we are proud to be able to support them as they continue with their vital and life saving work.”