Land & Rail

Under its framework agreement with Network Rail, Cyberhawk conducted a full visual inspection of Deptford Creek lifting bridge in August 2015. The findings of this study resulted in fears over the fate of the iconic landmark being quelled, after rail authorities announced it would no longer be demolished. With no reports or records to indicate previous maintenance inspections, an understanding of what lay at the top of the structure was critical and, due to the unknown, Network Rail’s priority was for the inspection to be executed safely and efficiently.

Progressive drone technology meant that Cyberhawk’s team of inspection engineers were able to carry out this project in a single day, without the need to stop operations. The inspection was completed in a more cost-effective way than traditional methods, with higher resolution imagery being captured and, most importantly, less time spent on the ground which meant the safety of personnel was improved.

With Deptford Creek being more than 50 years old, and the railway still being operational, it would not have been safe for a rope access team to carry out the workscope.


Another major benefit was that the inspection could be undertaken from outside Network Rail’s boundary, which meant the need for a trackside possession was eliminated.

Network Rail decided Cyberhawk was best suited to this particular project due to its Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Congested area operating safety case permission to operate in urban areas and experience of working on rail infrastructure.

Just like operating a full-size aircraft, UAV operators in the UK need to be approved and certified by the CAA. As with any contractor it is important to check their insurances and ensure that appropriate risk assessments and method statements are prepared before any project. In addition to this, pilots need extensive training and qualifications to be able to safely and competently operate a UAV near structures at industrial sites. Cyberhawk’s standards not only meet, but surpass this prerequisite, with its internal pilot training standards requiring four levels beyond the CAA minimum.

Cyberhawk’s solution for Deptford Creek mitigated the need for a full site setup and meant operations could continue throughout the inspection, improving safety and saving time, with Network Rail reporting cost savings of up to £30,000.