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Drone pilots

María Isabel Montero

María Isabel Montero

AERTEC / Head of PMO & MRO – Madrid Division

 

We are living in a continuously changing world. In the context of aeronautics and its technological evolution, we are facing the possibility of using unmanned aircraft systems for absolutely everything.

Drones, or RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) as they are widely known, started off by being a small invention to which different possibilities and capabilities have been given depending on the needs of each specific moment. As a matter of fact, the aeronautical development of these aircraft systems has been complemented by a whole series of onboard technologies which allow them to offer a large number of applications.

A new professional career has been created: Professional unmanned aircraft pilots capable of flying any kind of drone in any possible situation or eventuality.

The need for establishing a legal framework has arisen in this new and innovative, emerging sector that would enable it to develop safely. In the case of Spain, it is regulated by the by the State Agency for Air Safety (AESA – Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea), which lays down minimum requirements to ensure drone operations are safe in all aspects having to do with the aircraft, the pilot, communications between both and the environment depending on where the operations are taking place.

The aircraft’s weight plays an important role in all this. AESA is in charge of regulating the operation of drones weighing up to 150 kg. A European-wide regulation has been established for drones with greater capacity weighing more than 150 kg and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) is in charge of regulating them. Something similar happens in all other countries.

An adequate regulation with well-defined safety standards is an essential basis to drive this activity forward. There is no doubt whatsoever that the activities connected with the use of unmanned aircraft systems have great strategic potential to ensure the economic development of companies and regions thanks to a foreseeable reduction in certain activities’ costs, the opening up of new business lines and market positioning.

One of the most significant legal constraints is holding a pilot’s license to be able to pilot these unmanned aircraft. Pilot training is conditioned by the different sizes of drones and their capabilities.

The use of drones in the agricultural, forestry and mapping sectors is already taking place. They are also being used to monitor gas emissions and pollution, as well as for urban and spatial planning, infrastructure inspections, safety and in the audiovisual industry. We have already discussed some specific examples in a post published in this very blog on 16 January last year. Great demand for this sector is expected in the coming years and, thus, also for jobs in it.

To begin with, a new professional career has been created; namely that of drone pilot. There are already a large number of companies providing drone pilot training for a price of around €1,500, but which may vary depending on the qualification. Their aim is to train professional unmanned aircraft pilots capable of flying any kind of drone in any possible situation or eventuality. The training needed to fly is not the only necessary skill. Depending on the service that will be performed, training in other fields is sometimes necessary.

These centres’ students are given complete theoretical and practical training, including an official exam and certificate. Then a wide range of possibilities opens up for students to carry out specialised training in specific service fields (like mapping, safety, aerial photography, fire prevention, etc.) or to work directly for the different companies that are already using this kind of technology.

This is a key moment to decide on this professional career. Are you willing to give it a go?

 

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