In July 2018 Airvis Ltd provided a UAV security provision, to Farnborough International Airshow. This case study provides a summary of the events that took place and describes how Airvis Ltd were able to successfully provide their services.
It is provided in open source format; to highlight the key learning points for colleagues across the industry to take away. It is therefore highly recommended that all event management, safety consultants and safety officers familiarise themselves with the content of this document, to provide a guideline and propose a benchmark on UAV security service delivery, particularly in areas of mass crowd congregation.
Over a period of meetings in 2017, Airvis Ltd were requested to provide a comprehensive proposal and operating plan to Farnborough International Ltd, for the provision of a UAV security service. Its purpose; to enable a sustained aerial overwatch of the Airshow, bolstering the existing CCTV network and ensuring a flexible and dynamic response to critical incidents.
An amalgamation of relevant military and security expertise ensured that the comprehensive framework required to safely deliver this provision was approved by all agencies and stakeholders.
Identified and selected specifically for this task, only personnel with proven experience in delivering protective services in austere or high-risk environments were deployed.
Agencies and Stakeholders
Operating UAVs on an active airfield during flight displays, with crowds in excess of 30,000 people demanded the strictest risk mitigation, prior to agency and stakeholder permissions. Airvis Ltd.’s framework and strategy were approved by Farnborough International Ltd (FIL), National Air Traffic Service (NATS), Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and others, over a period of meetings and planning collaboration.
Ensuring that our team could operate in varying weather conditions from a remote location, with a standby requirement for a dynamic sustained deployment in place in the event of a major incident; required the leading industry equipment.
Our aircraft are enterprise grade aircraft, IP rated (weather resistant) with an abundance of built in safety features. Equipped with a 180x imaging system and higher capacity intelligent dual batteries resulted in extraordinary visual coverage of the airfield and beyond, and minimal down time during battery changes; offering a significantly reduced turnaround time, critical in times of incidents and ingress/egress periods.
Our team operated from remote locations, therefore required the use of our operational support vehicles. These service specific vehicles (built specifically for this role by Airvis Ltd) provides UAV teams with LCD screens, seating, workstations, IT systems, electricity, lighting, heating/air conditioning and welfare provisions on location.
Ensuring enough battery supplies for sustained operations is a critical success factor. Airvis Ltd utilise a systematic battery management programme, continually cycling batteries throughout operations, maintaining a continual supply of “in use”, “ready for use” and “charging”. With the ability to charge in remote locations through our support vehicles, Airvis Ltd are capable of remaining airborne indefinitely (excluding battery hot swap periods).
Airvis Ltd operated an Air Managers Desk from within the Show Control Office, commonly known as Event Liaison Team (ELT), Command Post (CP), Operations Room or similar. All relevant agencies to the show and airfield operated from the same open plan room, therefore ensuring clear and effective communication between all.
With an ongoing media threat of hostile UAVs (any other unknown UAV within 1km from the aerodrome boundary – ANO article 94B), police and security forces were instructed to report any sightings of such nearby. A way to deconflict our aircraft from that concern/threat was embedded, ensuring clear operating transparency and minimal disruption to the show.
Airvis Ltd operated during air show flight displays on an active runway, thanks to a system of communications to the ATC (Air Traffic Control) and FIL (Farnborough International Ltd) through a hierarchy structure, embedded into the SCO. The Air Managers Desk maintained direct communications with the UAV operators, utilising enhanced radio communications (provided by a contractor), throughout the airfield. Utilising group messaging systems, personnel GPS tracking and continual APK mapping updates ensured that our team were always synchronised.
Providing a live video feed into the SCO, enabling stakeholders and agency commanders to make informed decisions in real time was a critical success factor. Camera control orders were relayed through the Air Manager to the UAV operator in real time, therefore any latency would have rendered this impossible.
Our UAV video feed was decoded and displayed permanently on the Air Managers Desk, but with the option to mirror this onto the CCTV display wall offering visibility for all decision makers.
Although our imagery was always recorded onto the CCTV Network Video Recorder when airborne, we also had the capability to record directly onto our onboard UAV SD card, ensuring redundancy in evidence should it be required. SD cards would be sealed in evidence bags and handed to Hampshire Constabulary to maintain continuity of evidence.
Airvis Ltd maintained an operational deployment log, keeping records of all relevant communications, requests, incidents and flight times. The records were transferred to a digital log which allowed our team to review the up and down time over the week period. This data can be used to establish KPIs for repetition of this project and forecast workloads.
Predetermined Landing Zones (LZs) were identified within our operations plans, enabling our teams to operate from multiple locations as required. The effective detection range for vehicles and persons, was 2.6km from a static position.
The mere ability to quickly deploy and offer rapid situational awareness of an incident, area, casualty or threat offers better control of assets and hugely assists command composure.
This new ability promotes a sufficient and relevant response through visual evaluation and confirmation of the scene. Providing a reduced level of risk exposure to responders (where required) and minimizing the resilience impact elsewhere during response periods (through considered resource deployment); promotes safer environments for all.
Our deployment was very quickly utilised by all agencies within the SCO to counter issues that historically have maybe been very difficult or time and asset consuming to rectify. Throughout the week deployment, Airvis Ltd were tasked by every agency within the SCO on numerous occasions, to assist and support their objectives; examples of which are shown in the full case study.