About

Flight Operations & Risk Management

Prof Nick Avis
Prof Nick AvisAccountable Manager to the CAA
Chris Andrews
Chris AndrewsOperations & Technical Manager
Remote Pilot (RPQ-s)
Jakub Gacka
Jakub GackaDrone Pilot
Remote Pilot (RPQ-S)
Alex Foster
Alex FosterAudio Visual & Desktop
Remote Pilot

Subject Matter Experts (SME)

Dr Gerard Edwards
Dr Gerard EdwardsElectronic Systems SME
Electronic Engineering
Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Geary
Dr Matthew GearyConservation Biology SME
Conservation Biology
Programme Leader
Dr Servel Miller
Dr Servel MillerGeographical Info Sys SME
Natural Hazard Management
Programme Leader
Dr Gavin Phillips
Dr Gavin PhillipsEnvironmental Systems SME
Natural Sciences
Senior Lecturer

Support Teams

Informatics CentreData Management
MediaMarketing
Student ParticipantsAcademic Projects
FSE Technical TeamIn-House Engineering Support

Aerochester in context

Aerochester is a University of Chester initiative to provide Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle platforms to enable research and teaching in a wide variety of fields. Initially formed up to investigate localised gas dispersal patterns, it became clear that data-capture from airborne vehicles is demanded by a wide range of disciplines.

Operating from the University of Chester gives us a competitive advantage of having a nucleus of Subject Matter Experts from many disciplines on-hand to support end data interpretation and application in examining real-world problems. Through its core team of Flight Operatives, qualified and operating to CAA standards, Aerochester is well-placed to provide a variety of airborne data capture services to a diverse set of customers and stakeholders.

Our vision is to offer cost-effective UAV solutions that enable teaching and research teams to focus on their primary activities, safe in the knowledge that aerial platforms are taken care of by competent, skilled and experienced personnel.

We provide our customers with a fully managed service that offers serviceable, airworthy and safety-focused operations at an efficiency of cost that would be otherwise prohibitive to individual users. Through coupling our fully risk-managed services and CAA compliant task processes with our access to multiple Subject Matter Experts, Aerochester aims to be the natural point of call for airborne data capture services.

Meet the team

Mr Chris Andrews
Mr Chris Andrews
Operations & Technical Manager
Drone Pilot

As Operations and Technical Manager, Chris is the prime contact for any  requirements to use Aerochester services.

He holds responsibility for providing the Accountable Manager with full information on planning and risk management for Aerochester, and for ensuring the equipment maintenance and capabilities of the Aerochester fleet are up-to-date, airworthy and appropriate for our safe operations.

An aeronautical engineer and PRINCE 2 Project Manager, Chris has 28 years’ experience in UK defence projects throughout Europe. With a dual-discipline background in structural integrity engineering and electronic engineering, he was an original member of the Military Aviation Authority, engaged in the certification of UAVs and Fast Jets, and undertook his professional development in aerospace and UAVs through Cranfield University. Chris is currently enhancing his knowledge in the field of drone technology and applications alongside our friends at LJMU

Chris is qualified to fly Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, holding the CAA accredited RPQ-S award.

Find out more about Chris

Mr Jakub Gacka
Mr Jakub Gacka
Drone Pilot

As an Aerochester pilot, Jakub has a passion for aeronautical engineering and holds an MSc in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from Glyndwr University, where he pursued research in Aircraft/Wind turbine design, an area linking well with surveying capability options of UAVs. Jakub is also the Senior Technical Officer for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Chester.

Jakub is qualified to fly Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, holding the CAA accredited RPQ-S award.

Alex Foster
Alex Foster
Audio Visual Expert
Drone Pilot

Alex has a wealth of experience in the relatively new field of UAV hosted imagery and is arguably the unsung star of the Aerochester flight operations team. His passion for aviation has ranged from general aviation flying in his early to mid-teens, to the building of a fully functioning Cessna 182 flight simulator in his mid-twenties.

Having started off down the UAV path as a hobby, Alex has had his aerial imagery appear in both the Daily Post Wales and the Chester Chronicle. Other projects have included weddings and more recently, photogrammetry of landmarks with a view to mapping and 3D modelling. When not out flying, Alex can be found improving his knowledge of Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom and Photoshop to ensure he is able to edit his captured footage to a high standard.

Alex is familiar with the DJI line-up of products, with flight experience across the Inspire and Phantom series. His current project involves building, configuring and flight testing of a DJI S1000 for the University’s Geography Department, and he is currently undertaking CAA Qualified Entity training to get his Remote Pilot qualification.

Prof Nick Avis
Prof Nick AvisAccountable Manager to the CAA & Real-Time Data Handling SME

Nick Avis is the Provost of the Faculty of Science and Engineering with a research background in computer science and has an active interest in real time data handling. Nick has recently presented at a couple of relevant events including ‘Drones for Good’ and at an event looking at the legal and ethical aspects of drones organised by Taylor Vinters.

His research interests include: interactive and real time visualization and virtual/augmented reality systems; computational steering; application acceleration using many-core devices, remote rendering; interactive grid middleware and visual analytics of social media data.

Nick holds the crucial role of being the Accountable Manager to the CAA for Aerochester.

Find out more about Nick

Dr Gerard Edwards
Dr Gerard EdwardsElectronic Systems SME

Dr Edwards is the Principal Investigator for the Aerochester intitiative. As well as being Senior Lecturer in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Chester, he has also led a multinational MSc programme in Systems Engineering & Engineering Management for the University of Bolton and South Westphalia University of Applied Science, Germany.

With a keen eye on developing and exploiting UAV control algorithms, Dr Edwards’ has research interests in developing live integration of sensor data with intelligent navigation systems.

With his in-depth experience and expertise in Advanced Control Theory and Intelligent Systems, Aerochester are delighted to have Dr Edwards as the Electronic Systems Engineering SME.

Find out more about Gerard

Dr Gavin Phillips
Dr Gavin PhillipsEnvironmental Systems SME

Gavin Phillips is a senior lecturer in Natural Sciences with a keen interest in the chemistry and physics of air pollution. Gavin has worked on a number of international projects funded by DEFRA, Natural Environment Research Council, and the Max Planck Society. He is interested in applications of UAVs in the monitoring of trace gases and other pollutants and use of UAVs in emergency response scenarios especially in industrial landscapes.

Find out more about Gavin

Dr Matt Geary
Dr Matt GearyConservation Biology SME

Matt is a conservation biologist specialising in understanding how and why populations change both numerically and spatially. He focuses on the landscape scale and is interested in species-habitat relationships and land use change. He is interested in the use of UAVs in the remote monitoring of landscapes and species in conservation. This includes tracking individuals, counting populations and provide remotely sensed imagery.

Find out more about Matt

Dr Servel Miller
Dr Servel MillerGeographical Information Systems SME

Dr  Servel Miller is a Geoscientist with a particular interest in the development and application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to Natural Hazard Management. His research has focused mainly on the Caribbean and United Kingdom regions, investigating the impact that major catastrophes (such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunami and volcanoes) have on the development of cities, the economy and the environment. Beyond the Natural Hazard Management field, Dr Miller also runs a CPD course in “Mapping with Unmanned Aerial Vehichle (UAVs): Application to Natural Hazard Management” and is an active researcher into the role of mobile technologies (e.g. social media) on students’ learning.

Find out more about Servel

Informatics Centre
Informatics CentreData Management

The Informatics Centre is a Software Development team who specialise in system thinking, helping businesses to work through IT concepts and develop these into tangible products. Our primary expertise is in developing web and mobile applications with a requirement to display and consume a large volume of data. For Aerochester we have designed, developed and manage their marketing website and in addition to this have provided our software development expertise to help program a range of sophisticated sensors to work with the UAVs and to store and analyse the data collected by them.

Find out more about the Informatics Centre