Aerial specialist maps out benefits of drones


THE managing director of an aerial photography and surveying business says the use of drones is of benefit to the community.

Chris Slee, who has recently set up ATEC-3D, says the use of light unmanned helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft helps shorten the time it takes to study and inspect vast amounts of land.

And although drone aircraft have been met with some bad press, especially those used in the military, the 29-year-old says unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are safe to use in the right hands.

Mr Slee, who lives in Hythe, said: “My brother-in-law, Sean Spratley, is an environmental officer for a mining company, but surveying bits of land was taking days, so we thought there must be a quicker way of doing it.

“We found there were UAVs that you can use to survey a large area in a short space of time, as well as covering a much larger area. The obvious choice was to jump on board.”

Concerns have been raised about drones, with some academics stating they invade privacy, and noting several crashes.

But Mr Slee says his company’s official approval from the Civil Aviation Authority is testament to his crafts’ safety.

He said: “People seem to be anxious about them because of what they have read, but using UAVs commercially are safe, environmentally-friendly and saves lots of time.

“The safety aspect is something very important to us. It’s been a long time getting approval from the Civil Aviation Authority and various other things, but it is worth it.”

ATEC-3D mainly undertakes surveying work, for customers such as landowners and developers, but also offers aerial photography, including wedding coverage. Its craft include hexacopters, which have a 1.5-metre diameter, as well as fixed-wing aircraft from 200cm wide, with many supporting high-definition cameras.

Mr Slee, who was a detective for Kent Police before his career change, has recently been boosted by Kent County Council’s Expansion East Kent initiative.

He added: “We were fortunate enough to be successful for a £30,000 interest-free loan which has allowed us to buy a lot of equipment which we would not have necessarily been able to afford.

“I’m really enjoying it and it seems to be really moving in the right direction.”

As well as surveying, Mr Slee has also recently taken aerial photographs of Westenhanger Castle, Port Lympne wildlife park and floods in Yalding.

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