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Eyes from above

13 February 2015

IT WILL not be cost-effective for routine inspections, but, if a church is facing a big roofing project, or the refurbishment of a spire, then hiring a "hexacopter" (an unmanned helicopter with six rotors) could be the best way of having a good look at the high places where work needs to be done. It could be particularly useful in places where using a cherry-picker or erecting scaffolding could be difficult because of graves near by.

Both St Asaph and Llandaff Cathedrals have recently made use of a hexacopter to assess the state of their roofs (News, 30 January), demonstrated by the director of Overdrones Ltd, Dean Overton. It can take still photographs and video footage, giving close-up images that highlight any repair work that needs to be done.

The diocesan conservation and development officer for St Asaph, Jan Williams, says that it can be difficult to work out just how extensive repairs might have to be. "You might get only one view of a church roof by climbing to the top of its tower. This technique allows us to see the same piece of the building from a number of different angles, to help us look at repairs."

The hexacopter was demonstrated to officials from the Church in Wales at St Asaph and Llandaff on subsequent days. "This is interesting new technology to help us survey and assess repair needs, particularly for tall towers and spires that are inaccessible," the head of property services in the Church of Wales, Alex Glanville, says. "Unfortunately, it doesn't solve our problems, but it helps us learn more about what we are dealing with."

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