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Commercial use of drones on the rise in Czech Republic

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Prague, Oct 31 (CTK) – The number of drones used commercially by both state institutions and private firms in the Czech Republic has been rising and it has tripled since last year, Czech Civil Aviation Authority (UCL) spokesman Vitezslav Hezky has told CTK.

Drones help check electricity pylons, they uncover defects in the construction of new roads and soon they will also help the police and firefighters in their actions.

At the beginning of October, the UCL registered 150 unmanned aircraft designated for commercial and not recreational purposes, while last year it was 47 and in 2013 no drones were registered at all, Hezky said.

The IT Administration of Plzen, west Bohemia, have six drones registered. Their advantage, compared with helicopters, is a much cheaper operation, its director Ludek Santora said. While an hour of a helicopter in the air costs tens of thousands of crowns, in the case of a drone it is just dozens of crowns, he added.

However, so far drones have helped the integrated rescue system only during exercised, Santora said.

They might be deployed in action for the first time in Plzen on Sunday when a football league match between Viktoria Plzen and Sparta Praha is played there and the police have asked for monitoring the football arena surroundings.

The aviation authority had to approve the use of drones for this particular case.

Problems with approval are the major obstacle to an efficient use of drones. A particular permit is needed for every use, which actually prevents their deployment at hoc.

If a fire erupted, it would not be possible to obtain all permits in time. However, a chief of the action has also some decision-making powers in such a case, Santora said.

So far drones have been most often used commercially for photographing or shooting advertisements and commercials.

However, drones are also used in farming, for instance, to find out which part of a field needs more fertilisation, and in the energy industry where they can replace technicians checking the state of electricity pylons. Drones work more quickly than people, but they cannot remove a defect, so technical staff must be called to do so eventually.

All drones, including models, weighing over 20 kilos must be registered with the UCL. But if they are used for commercial purposes, even the owners of lighter drones must ask for a permit, Hezky added.

Out of state institutions, the National Institute for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection and the CEPS administrator of Czech transmission system have asked for the permission to use drones commercially.

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