Business Technology

Forget Maverick and Goose, UK outfit breeds new age pilots with drone school

3 min read

07 September 2015

Former deputy editor

Drones have received an increasing amount of attention in the UK, which has resulted in a group of airline pilots joining forces to create a drone training school – perhaps the Top Gun sequel will draw inspiration from the changing airspace.

A particularly notable 2015 development saw business minister Anna Soubry open a £10m aerospace investment fund to find interesting and novel ideas from SMEs “to keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market”.

Elsewhere, London-based drone firm Sky-Futures secured the largest drone investment on the company back in May, when it bagged a £2.5m investment from MMC Ventures.

“We have experienced a fantastic level of growth in the past year, expanding our global reach and further establishing ourselves as the world leaders in oil and gas drone inspection” said James Harrison, co-founder and CEO of Sky-Futures.

Building on the movements, a drone training school called UAV Air has been opened by four senior airline pilots and drone operators Cloud12 and UAViate.

With experience of flying both Hollywood movie drones and commercial airliners, the “crack team” has designed a series of courses based on manned aviation principles – all of which have been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

A full schedule of courses has been put together, the first of which will be held in Berkshire, Staffordshire and East Yorkshire throughout September and October. The material is set to provide students with technical, theoretical and practical knowledge to fly drones commercially in Britain.

Will Coldwell, director of UAV Air and an A320 pilot, said: “The commercial drone industry is very new and growing at a phenomenal rate so there is a real need to provide formal training, by experienced instructors to accepted aviation guidelines. We have set out to do just this with UAV Air and have already seen phenomenal interest in our courses.”

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Describing the drone job market as “ultra competitive”, courses support different ability levels and lengths, including new entrants, candidates with flight tim and fast-track options.

“One of the things that we were keen to adopt is an open and transparent approach to the Flight Assessment,” said Ben Keene, head of Flight Assessment. “We firmly believe in de-mystifying it, allowing candidates to determine if they are ready to take the test based on their understanding of it.

“We developed our unique Skills Test Candidate Guide to facilitate this and offer it to all students at enrolment. We aim to create a relaxed and informed approach, so all candidates can focus on their training, get the most from the course and perform the flight assessment to the best of their abilities.”