Altitude began operating drones in Dublin, Ireland in 2017. Since launching, founder and lead pilot Mark Fox has seen demand in his diversely equipped drone services continually spike throughout Ireland.
“The growth Altitude has experienced can be attributed to the business development skills I've gained in my earlier career: this 100% starts with a good website than can really showcase your work."
Recently, most of Mark's operations have been carried out within Dublin. Not only is the city's metropolitan area home to nearly 2mn inhabitants, the skies above are some of Europe’s busiest as a key hub for transatlantic flights.
Much of Dublin Airport CTA covers the city itself, meaning the airspace above will be permanently controlled Class C. Beyond this, on a localised scale there are many ground hazards and temporary flight restrictions to be adhered to. In particular, city tower cranes throughout the rapidly developing city.
Therefore to operate effectively it is essential to build a rapport with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and in doing so, consistently demonstrate well-managed and well-planned commercial drone operations.
Image: Flyte's dashboard view of drone flight planned in Dublin's Phoenix Park.
Working with the Irish Aviation Authority:
The IAA, who launched the current professional drone operations ruleset in late 2015, have been widely praised for their proactive approach enabling commercial operations through a safe and accessible permissions process. Information covering this, as well as permissions forms can be downloaded here.
Of particular interest to Altitude are permissions U.F. 101 Airspace Application Form which enable Mark to fly in Controlled Airspace and Operate in built-up areas respectively.
"My process for gaining permission in more restricted areas involves carrying out a site assessment in person and obtaining landowner permissions before reaching out to the IAA. It's essential to fully understand the location I'll be operating in and if it is within a built up area.
"In my airspace assessment, I use Flyte to identify any nearby airports which I deem relevant to my flight. In my correspondence with the IAA, I list these and they get in touch if any others are likely to cause an issue or if there's a problem with my flight at that particular date or time.
"The IAA also provides pilots with a unique reference number for multiple recurring flights on the same site. This removes the time spent on gaining permissions each time."
What's next for Mark Fox and Altitude:
Altitude have started out with photo and video capture. Their operations increasingly stretch into using drones for industrial inspection and surveying, 3D modeling, volumetric measurements, thermal imaging and monitoring of plant/crop health.
Of particular note is a focus on a construction-based portfolio. This rings true throughout the wider drone industry with construction and mining considered to be the fastest growing industry verticals to be operating drones in at present.
"Altitude are creating the drone industry of the future. The projects I carry out just now are just the beginning. Applications like Flyte give us this support"