That live SenSat BVLOS flight, was it all it seemed?

I was sent a press release from UK firm SenSat on Wednesday that quite frankly made many claims that just didn’t stack up.

Perhaps it was this line that first made me doubt SenSat from their about profile in the press release.

SenSat is pioneering the use of a new technique called Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry

Humm, I think we were all playing with Noah Snavely’s Bundler back in the heady summer of 2008.

I will give them a little bit of licence as it was the press department that wrote it. But it made me want to unpack all the claims a little.

They had a live webcast of their flight on the 11th of June 2018, it showed live footage of the flight progress. With interviews cut in for context.

All very neatly done, very SpaceX in its layout and big on tone. Lady in the background with a huge screen, weather messages, crowd noise, RT checklists and suits.

Why don’t you watch it?

You guessed it there is a but wait there’s more bit.

The NOTAM which I used as the featured image in this post is active from the 30th of May 2018 to the 1st of June 2018. This is the area the flight is alleged to have taken place. There was no NOTAM promulgated for the 11th of June 2018 when the Livestream indicated that the flight occurred.

Rogers Airfield, or St. James Montefiore Cricket Club, the launch site is just within the Western boundary of the NOTAM so it backs it up for me that this is the flight NOTAM.

Now, this is clearly not complex airspace, it’s rural UK. There is no evidence of detect sense and avoid and the airframe actually flew in its own bubble of protected airspace. General aviation in the UK is not going to be impressed if this becomes a day to day thing, they used 42.2km squared of airspace.

Listen to the RT chatter at 21:43 now I have not flown this platform but a quarter turn checklist would suggest turning it through 90 degrees onto each heading. It just stays still!

Now watch the live feed, when it starts and match the ground underneath the RPA on the GCS on the left. In this clip, the GCS flies over Mid Sussex Golf Course and the downward shot is a barn and open countryside.

I bet dear reader you can spot more inconsistencies. I would also put money down on SenSat claiming a lag between the systems. Note they do claim the GCS is a simulation further down the video, but that just does not make sense, why would you have all the comms links and no live GCS? They can get the radio calls back for the feed after all. Listen very carefully to them!

As I have watched the video several times writing this post I have become increasingly annoyed with SenSat we don’t need more smoke and mirrors in this industry.

People have flown completely legal BVLOS for at least six years in the UK, if I drink some remembering fluid at sunset I might even be able to get that back further.

There are companies quietly chipping away at all aspects of RPA flight in the UK. Just because they are not as loud does not mean they are not as successful.

It might be easy to pull the wool over potential client’s eyes but SenSats peers and more importantly the regulator is not as foolish as they might think.

SenSat consider yourselves on the sUAS News watch list, not in a good way.