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A drone is not just for Christmas: UAV pilot courses

A drone is not just for Christmas: UAV pilot courses

Drones come in different types and sizes. Anyone can buy a small one and fly it around their garden for fun. But to fly a commercial drone – bigger versions that fly faster, higher and longer and carry high-resolution video cameras – you’ll need a licence. They are, after all, small aircraft and can cause damage or injure people and animals when they crash, not to mention the dangers of invading the flight paths of passenger jets at take-off and landing. You need to know where and when you are allowed to fly a commercial drone to avoid trouble with the law.

The public uptake of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is expanding exponentially, and increasing numbers of fliers are seeking a licence to fly their drone for extended periods around built-up areas. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stipulates that no licence is required for drones under 20kg in weight, with the provisos that it can’t be flown within 150 metres of a congested area and within 50 metres of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the pilot. These basic rules aim to limit the collateral damage that untrained fun-seekers can cause by crashing their drones into people and property. To fly a drone for commercial purposes like film and documentary making, a licence is required. This can be obtained in as little as 3 days if the pilot shows aptitude.

At this time of year, leading UK drone flight training centre are particularly anxious to help those who were given a drone for Christmas and don’t really know the regulations of aviation. Séamus Kearns, Chief Instructor at UAVAir, said in a news item on their site: ‘ … there are a few basic things every pilot must know: You must fly within the line of sight at a maximum height of 400ft, with the drone no more than 500m away from you horizontally. No drone can be flown near other aircraft, and it must not be within 50m of another person, vehicle or structure that you don’t have permission from. Flying near or over congested areas such as a public event or concert is not permitted any closer than 150m.’

On commercial licenses, he said, ‘There is huge demand for skilled and qualified pilots in a range of industries and specialisations. At UAVAir we give you the knowledge and training needed to fill these roles.’

The full professional course consists of computer-based distance learning, 2 days of ground school, a practical flight assessment, and an ongoing support package including ops manual development, pilot checklists and telephone support. Once passed, it is a ticket to a career flying drones commercially.