Commercial drone use permits have more than doubled in the UK since last October and soared over 57% since April, figures released by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show.

The number of CAA-approved commercial operators now stands as 862, compared to 549 in April and a reported 359 in October 2014.

The figures come as experts predict commercial drone use will soar further in 2016.

Companies already using drone technology include Amazon, Shell and DHL, said organisers of the UK Drone Show, who have been forced to add an extra date due to unforeseen demand.

The UK Drone Show takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 5-6 December.

‘Drones have been increasingly used in the public and private sector, by media companies for aerial photography and cinematography, mapping and surveys, and in the agriculture industry,’ said organisers of the inaugural event in a statement yesterday.

‘The drone industry is creating careers as more and more businesses recognise the benefits of UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] technology and look to recruit drone engineers and experts.’

DJI dronesDrones are also increasingly used for humanitarian purposes, such catching poachers in Africa’s national parks.

UK Drone Show project manager Oliver O’Brien said: ‘Some industries started using drones a few years ago, but suddenly more and more businesses are realising the advantages and jumping on the bandwagon.’

The British Model Flying Association is set to be among exhibitors at the UK Drone Show.

The association’s spokesperson Manny Williamson said its stand will feature a flight simulator and offer guidance on ‘all aspects of sport and recreational multi-rotor flying’.

Williamson added: ‘Staff will be on hand to discuss aspects such as insurance and legislation, and the Civil Aviation Authority will also be sharing the stand in order to promote the launch of the forthcoming Drone Awareness Week, and to advise on the legalities for those considering commercial activity with their aircraft.’

According to Forbes business magazine, the world’s largest consumer drone maker, DJI, is now worth $10 billion.

uk drone show.webLast month, regulators launched a drone awareness initiative featuring a dedicated online resource where existing and potential users can access drone safety advice.

Regulators have issued a list of tips called the ’Dronecode’, specifically targeting amateur users (see below).

The initiative followed a number of recent incidents involving drones and various aircraft.

DRONECODE
• Make sure you can see your drone at all times and don’t fly higher than 400 feet
• Always keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
• Use your common sense and fly safely; you could be prosecuted if you don’t

Drones fitted with cameras must not be flown:
• Within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures
• Over congested areas or large gatherings, such as concerts and sports events