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Aerial imagery specialists launch in Wellington


27 August 2012

Aerial imagery specialists launch in Wellington

Wellington skies will now see the first commercial unmanned aerial vehicle company, Sycamore, to fly in the city’s centre.

Sycamore Ltd is a Wellington based aviation company leading the field in the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as ‘drones’. Perhaps better known for military purposes, they have gained in popularity with civilians as the technology has developed and become more affordable to a wider audience.

With the increasing proliferation of hobbyist and radio controlled modellers accessing the technology the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took a pro-active role in the development of regulations to ensure their safe operation.

Sycamore Director Stephen Davies Howard said, " Sycamore has worked with the CAA, the Airline Pilots Association, Airways Corporation and the NZ Police to ensure that our Safety Management System is as effective as any manned aviation operation in New Zealand. We fly with a three person team; a qualified commercial pilot as the non-flying supervisor, a licensed flying pilot and a camera operator. And our approach was validated by being granted authorisation to fly at Wellington International Airport during normal passenger operations on their busiest day ever during the Rugby World Cup. "

Sycamore’s approach to operating the aircraft and their safety record has gained them a CAA Pilotless Aircraft Authorisation to operate in New Zealand gained after a twelve month proof of concept period during which time Sycamore had to meet the CAA's exacting standards of operation.

“This is the next exciting chapter in the history of aviation, and Sycamore want to be on the front of that wave of development, not shut down for unsafe operations. Our pilots have therefore undergone security screening and are trained to the same exacting standard and requirements as an Air New Zealand pilot," said Sycamore Chief Executive, Ben Forman.

Sycamore are at pains to point out that they are not in competition with manned aircraft at this stage. Foreman said, "Sycamore are focused on providing high resolution aerial photography and full HD video from an amazing and new angle to allow customers to capitalise on the opportunity that internet search engines, such as YouTube, provide. Video content is a significant enhancement to your marketing ability. An aerial view gives that content an edge. The use of drones are really addition a whole new dimension to the way we can capture film and photography, they can fill the gap where a manned helicopter can't go to beyond the reach of most people."

Sycamore offer a service to anyone who wants an unusual or unique perspective. They use New Zealand made aircraft built by Droidworx and stabilised camera gimbals built by fellow Wellington company Photohigher. They plan to expand their operation to use the full spectrum of the aircraft's ability as regulations develop. The Sycamore team is made up of creative entrepreneurs and experienced aviation exponents and with the industry projected to make $89b worldwide by 2022 is looks as though this is an interesting company to keep an eye on.

Issued by: Sycamore Ltd

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