Government Drone Pathfinder Programme

The Pathfinder Programme is part of a wider programme of work, both government led and across the UK’s public and private sectors, aimed at enabling integration of drones into UK airspace. In 2018 the Programme’s focus was reviewed and refreshed, under the governance of the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC)


The programme aims to rapidly drive progress in drone technology and regulation over the next ten years, enabling industry and the public sector to fully exploit the market in areas such as geo-mapping, infrastructure inspections, surveying and logistics to both commercial and public-sector industries.

The Programme will focus on identifying and overcoming the technical, operational, and commercial barriers, providing a platform for industry innovators to engage with government and the regulator at early stages, to jointly explore solutions and share information throughout the community. This increased engagement will serve to both maximise understanding of the current and future regulatory environment, as well as creating an opening for suggested adaptations to regulations where appropriate.

It is envisaged that this will assist in optimising the use of drones in the private and public sectors, enabling efficiency savings, improving their capabilities including the ability to carry out high risk activities in a safer way. The Programme will continue to explore solutions for safe, routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations across a range of application.


The Pathfinder Programme will take a phased approach to achieving routine use of drones within the UK by exploring specifically how routine BVLOS operations could be enabled by overcoming the identified challenges.


To ensure that the focus of the programme remains up to date, the list of challenges will be updated regularly based on actual industry engagement.

Current Projects

The Pathfinder Community

Transport Infrastructure Construction: Sensat, Costain Group, IUK , The Transport Systems Catapult

Energy Infrastructure: EIC, Callen-Lenz, Wales & West Utilities, Cadent, National Grid Transmission, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, UK Power Networks, Callen-Lenz, Transport Systems Catapult 

Geomapping: Ordnance Survey 

Blue Lights: Ambulance, Fire, Police, NHS, NPAS 

Rail: Network Rail, Transport Systems Catapult 

Maritime: Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) 

Governance Framework

You can now download our full programme framework here if you wish to learn more about our activities. This document sets out the purpose and aspirations of the Pathfinder Programme, the governance, including the roles and responsibilities of the Steering Committee members, and the criteria and requirements for being a member of the Pathfinder programme.

Please note: This is the first version of the Governance framework document to allow everyone to see the key aspects.  This will soon be accompanied by appendices which are in development.


Find out more about our events here.

The pathfinder community meets once per quarter with the governance and wider consultation committee. These community days provide the community with the ability to network, socialise potential projects and opportunities, communicate project updates (challenges, benefits, methodologies, risks, etc).  

Get in Touch

To find more about the Pathfinders or to get involved, please get in touch at






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