Aerial Photography list of Terms and Acronyms

  • “1C, 2C etc.” – Charge rates for batteries. The faster the charge rate, the quicker the batteries charge, but this can also lead to degradation over time. 1C is a safe rate. To calculate it, tahe the mAH rating (e.g. 5,000) and divide by 1,000 (e.g 5). The recommended charge rate is, therefore 5 Amps (at the appropriate cell count, of course)
  • “Aerial photography” – photography from a device that is not in contact with the ground. See also elevated photography. Aerial Photography can be taken at greater altitude above ground than elevated; however flight restrictions can mean that elevated photography is the only available method.
  • “AESA” State Agency For Air Safety. It regulates anything that flies in Spain.
  • AGL” – Above Ground Level
  • AOI” – Area of Interest
  • ATC” – Air Traffic Control
  • ATO” – Air Traffic Organisation
  • Autonomous” – A way of flying a preprogrammed route without pilot intervention. e.g. criss-crossing a field
  • Balanced Charging“. A LiPo battery usually has more than one cell. When it is being charged, balancing ensures that each cell is charging at the same rate as all the others. It prolongs the life of the cells (by ensuring that one cell does not overcharge compared to the rest) and therefore the battery itself.
  • Barometric Pressure sensor” – As you ascend into the atomsphere, the air density gets thinner. A Barometric Pressure Sensor can detect and measure this and, from the information, give you a measurement of height.
  • Binding” – The process of linking a Transmitter with the receiver on a craft.
  • “CAA” The Civil Aviation Authority. It Regulates anything that flies (even if it is tethered) in the UK and, as of 1st January 2010, anyone that wants to take aerial photography as a business has to be licensed by it. If it is not, it is acting illegally and its insurance (if carried) will not be valid. See http://www.caa.co.uk for further information.
  • “CAOSC” – Congested Area Operating Safety Case. If you are to fly ina Congested area, you need to make a Safety Case for it. See the CAA website for further information.
  • CFR” – Code of Federal Regulations
  • “COW / COA” – Certificate of Waiver / Certificate of Authorization. Authorization to use a UAS in public Airspace
  • “CRB / DBS” Criminal Records Bureau / Disclosure & Barring Service. Many places now require staff to be CRB / DBS checked. This will also apply to Contractors. Used to be CRB, now it is DBS.
  • “ECS / CSCS” Electrotechnical Certification Scheme / Construction Skills Certification Scheme. Bodies that organise the assessment of workers to ensure that they have a basic grounding in safety. Nowadays, a building Site (for instance) will not allow a worker to be inducted for work unless they already hold this card. If you are looking for photography on a Building Site, ensure that your Aerial Photographer carries a card
  • “Elevated Photography” – photography from a raised device that is in contact with the ground. See Aerial Photography.
  • ESC” – Electronic Speed Controller. This controls the speed of the motors – one ESC per motor.
  • FPV / First person view” – This is where the pilot (or observers) can see a Pilot’s-eye view of the flight via a camera mounted on the craft sending its live video back to ground via an aerial. Generally speaking the pilot should not be flying the craft this way as (s)he cannot observe what surrounds the craft. The pilot should be watching it line of sight.
  • “FAA” The Federal Aviation Administration. It Regulates anything that flies in the US. Currently it is letting a few select drone operators operate commercially but, in general, this is a prohibited activity. See http://www.faa.gov for further information.
  • “FAR” Federal Aviation Regulation
  • GCS” – Ground Control Station
  • GPS” – Global Positioning System
  • HSE” The Health and Safety Executive. Overseeing body for all aspects of Health and Safety in the Workplace
  • IMU” – Inertial Measurement Unit. A device that measures various movements of a UAS, e.g. acceleration and orientation. It helps maintain movement when GPSis not available
  • LiDAR” – Light Detecting And Ranging. A remote sensing technology that measures ranges (variable distances) to the Earth by using light in the form of a pulsed laser.
  • LIPO” – Type of rechargeable battery commonly used by radio controlled craft. It has a high power density (more power per unit of weight) and also a level power curve, in that for the majority of the time that power is being drawn, the voltage does not drop significantly. The downside is that once it gets to 80 – 90% usage, the power output declines extremenly rapidly. This is why LiPos should be used to no more than about 80% of their capacity. Draining a battery too much can cause crashes and can also irreversibly damage the cells. LiPo is an acronym for “Lithium Polymer”
  • “LOS / Line of sight” – Flying a UAV so that it is continuously in unaided visual contact with the pilot. Usually a legal requirement for commercial flight.
  • “PTZ” Pan, Tilt and Zoom. Movement of a camera to bring the subject of the shot into the frame. Ideally, this should all be achieved remotely from the ground using a Video Downlink as feedback
  • NOTAM” – Notice to Airman. A memo covering specific changes that might affect flight planning. e.g an Air Display in the area.
  • “NQE” – National Qualified Entities. Commercial organisations approved to carry out UAV pilot training and assessment.
  • “SACAA” South African Civil Aviation Authority. It regulates anything that flies in South Africa
  • Section 333” FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA)
  • Sense and Avoid” – the ability of an object (e.g. UAV, plane) to detect and avoid other systems in the area. Will be a prerequisite for autonomous flights beyond Line of Sight.
  • SOP” Standard Operating Procedures
  • “Transport Canada” It regulates anything that flies in Canada
  • UA” – Unmanned Aircraft
  • “UAS / UAV” Unmanned Aerial System / Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. A craft that flies but only takes cameras as payloads, not humans. This category includes Remote controlled Helicopters and ‘planes, kites and blimps as well as the newer custom UAV devices
  • VFR” – Visual Flight Rules
  • VLOS” – Vertical line of sight
  • VMC” – Visual Meteorlogical Conditions
  • VTOL” – Vertical Take off and Landing
  • Waypoint” – If you imaging a route on a map that you want to fly, a Waypoint is a marker on the map that denotes, say, a change in direction. These can be programmed into a UAS to allow it to fly an autonomous route, which can be more accurate than a pilot observing.