A new project announced on Wednesday by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will explore how current laws and regulations can be developed to allow search and rescue drones to be used to in coastline rescues. The drones will reach incidents first and relay critical information back to the MCA headquarters.

UK coastguard looks into drones for search and rescue

The successful outcome of the project would allow the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to respond to rescue before other air, ground, or water units would. The drones would then take high-quality footage of the scene to relay back to the MCA headquarters where a plan of attack would be created.

Before this, a manned unit would arrive on the scene, with an action plan created from there. Utilizing drones would allow for a better plan to be created and improve the rescue times once manned units arrive.

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani had the following to say on the potential for the drones in terms of saving people and spotting environmental hazards.

Drone technology has enormous potential for our search and rescue teams, who save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ground-breaking project will not only hope to boost the capabilities of our already fantastic teams but will also boost our ability to spot pollution hazards and protect our precious marine environment.

Last year the MCA search and rescue helicopters responded to seven missions per day on average and saved 1,600 people. Overall the MCA coordinated 22,000 incidents and saved a total of 7,000 people.

Phil Hanson, aviation technical assurance manager at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency shared his excitement of the project and the improvement in efficiency the drones will offer the MCA.

I am extremely proud and excited that the MCA has taken the brave step to take the lead in the development and implementation of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones in UK airspace. The use of drones in search and rescue, counter pollution and maritime aerial observation operations will potentially increase overall efficiency and also reduce the risk to our personnel – allowing the MCA to discharge its international obligations effectively.

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Photo: UK Government


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