FANCY yourself as a Top Gun but can’t afford the pilot training? A Queensland firm may have the answer.
Brisbane-based V-TOL Aerospace has begun rolling out the world’s first regulator-approved remote pilot training for civilians that could make you or your neighbour a qualified “drone” operator in just two weeks.
Six people were already mid-way through the Civil Aviation Safety Authority-approved course, which was run as an intensive two-week residential program at the V-TOL’s Australian Unmanned Systems Academy in Marburg.
V-TOL managing director Mark Xavier said theoretically “anyone can pass the course” which costs $5000 for tuition, though potential fliers should factor in a further $2000 to $3000 for the residential costs.
If that sounds too good to be true, be warned – classes sometimes run into the evening and the syllabus includes the theory of flight, legal issues, programming and safety. The fun part was the second week where students get their hands on simulator technology and then actually fly a remote pilot aircraft system.
CASA figures show more than 90 people already hold remote pilot certificates, at a cost of $160.
A CASA spokesman told The Courier-Mail the authority expected growth to continue to double.
“This sector is burgeoning, with increasing numbers of people showing interest in operating remotely piloted aircraft. The number of UAS Operator Certificate holders more than doubled in a 12-month period from January 2012 and that number is likely to double again in the next financial year,” he said.
DRONING ON: V-TOL Aerospace managing director Mark Xavier with one of his remotely piloted aircraft. Picture: Campbell Scott
Remote piloting student Tibor Fekete of Canberra-based XTEK, which has the Australian retail licence to sell a drone used by the US military, said there was a lot of excitement over what the civilian training could open up.
People who were interested in using drones included advertising firms, real estate agents, and farmers but one of the main issues was the lack of approved flight training.
“If you wanted to buy a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) off me, I couldn’t sell you one because you couldn’t fly it and there was no mechanism for you to learn to fly it. This is what industry needs,” Mr Fekete said.
From Courier Mail 25/05/2013