A search and rescue drone has been reported missing after it was deployed to locate a missing walker on Ben Nevis.
Following Storm Georgina, three climbers got into difficulty on Sunday. While two of the climbers were picked up by a coastguard helicopter after Lochaber MRT carried them halfway down, the third group member was unable to be picked up as the team was ‘reluctantly’ forced to end the mission “due to the extreme conditions and darkness.”
The Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team made the decision to deploy the UAV during the harsh conditions in a bid to not further endanger human life in a manual search in unsafe areas.
In a post on Facebook, the rescue team commented: “Despite conditions being well outside the operational capability of UAVs, it was decided that it was safer to try and search the area using a UAV to see if the images captured could give any clue to location of the missing person. Unfortunately the conditions proved to be well outside its operational capability and resulted in the UAV to be lost.”
“The aerial picture shows location where contact with the UAV was lost in Observatory Gully.”
The decision to operate the drone in the interest of human safety appears to contradict the advice of the CAA.
Last week, following extreme winds, Commercial Drone Professional spoke to the CAA about how pilots should operate during bad weather.
The official stance of the regulatory body is that if a drone operator passes their safety checks it is safe to fly.
Richard Taylor, press officer at the CAA, told Commercial Drone Professional: “They have to be able to conduct each and every flight safely and they may be required to stand in a court one day and explain why they flew.”
“It’s up to an individual to make that call. They are obliged to follow all the regulations, including flight tests.”
Despite the fact that it isn’t illegal to fly in extreme winds, if a drone pilot does pass safety checks and deems the conditions safe enough, Taylor recommends they act on the side of caution.
“If it doesn’t look good, don’t fly,” he advised.