Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are changing many aspects of our life. As the technology continues to blaze ahead and offer more possibilities for both new hobbies and business ventures, our own understanding has the potential of being outpaced. Drone training is a great way to level the playing field and give you the tools necessary to confidently operate your UAV and stay on the cutting edge of the approaching drone boom. Whether you’re a hobbyist taking your drone for a spin around the park or looking to break into the burgeoning commercial drone industry, drone pilot training can help you get the most fun and value out of your investment and avoid potentially costly and dangerous crashes.
First, the distinction between recreational and commercial flight is important so you can decide what sort of UAV training course you’ll want to take. Recreational flight means you’re flying purely for personal interest and enjoyment, like flying around the backyard or snapping photos for your own personal use. Commercial drone flight is using your drone for any sort of business-related purposes or profit; selling the same photographs from the previous recreational example would be considered commercial use of the drone. There are drone training courses available for both types of pilots, focusing on different areas of operating your UAV.
Whether you’re interested in UAV training as a recreational or commercial pilot, you’ll need to abide by regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA is the United States government authority involved in regulating the American airspace, including drones and their different operations. Both recreational and commercial pilots need to abide by FAA regulations to varying degrees, so drone pilot training is not only going to teach you the required skills to pilot your drone for its intended purpose, but also aid you in understanding how FAA rules and regulations affect the way you fly.
If you’re a hobbyist drone pilot interested in flying for fun, UAV training is a great way to make sure you’re flying in the safest and most fun way possible. There is a lot that goes into learning how to fly a drone, so a guiding hand from an experienced pilot in a drone pilot training course can make a huge difference in your own experience. Hobby drone pilot training courses will mostly focus on the basics to get you flying for fun: transmitter controls and the corresponding movements, drone anatomy and parts, launching and landing, battery storage, drone maintenance, and of course, safety before, during, and after your flight. Even if you’re just flying for fun, a UAV can always endanger you or other people if flown recklessly. Understanding how to fly safely is one of the most important benefits to a drone pilot training course.
Learning the basics of flying a drone and flight safety is only the first step for a hobbyist pilot and their drone pilot training. As mentioned, recreational flight is still regulated by the FAA and recreational pilots still need to fully understand FAA rules and regulations. Any drone between 0.55 and 55 pounds needs to be registered with the FAA, regardless of recreational and commercial use. The FAA also has its own guidelines for recreational flight: making sure you stick to flying for enjoyment and not profit, flying below 400 feet, not interfering with manned aircraft, keeping the UAV in your line of sight, steering clear of other people, stadiums and airports, and other guidelines. The information is available online through the FAA, but taking a drone training course with an experienced pilot who has practical knowledge of how FAA guidelines affect recreational flying is going to ensure you’re flying safely and within the FAA’s legal framework. If you’re not brushed up and end up endangering other people or property, you’ll end up facing a fine. More importantly, hurting someone else or breaking your drone beyond repair due to being reckless and uninformed is only going to be a negative experience for you and anyone else you’re putting in harm’s way. Whether it’s learning the basics of flying or FAA rules and regulations, UAV training is really going to make sure you’re having fun with your new hobby.
Piloting drones for fun is a rising hobby, but UAV technology is receiving the most attention for its commercial use. A wide variety of industries have the potential to benefit from drones, including the military, law enforcement, agriculture, weather monitoring, package delivery, mass media, film, firefighting, and telecommunications, among many others. Considering skilled pilots will be needed for the drone job boom to come, drone training will be a requirement for a successful career. The role of drone training will become more important as rules and regulations evolve, but for now, UAV training still offers an experienced source of knowledge on commercial drone flying and the additional FAA requirements you’ll need to meet to run a commercial operation.
The rules for commercial drones are still being written as the technology grows, but taking a drone training course can keep you informed on the current FAA landscape and what sort of regulations are coming. Currently, no UAV training can certify you for commercial flight – you can only fly a drone for business use with FAA permission. The FAA currently has four requirements for commercial flight: a Section 333 grant of exemption, a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), an aircraft registered with the FAA, and a pilot with an FAA airman certificate. A drone pilot training course will help break down what sort of work goes into each of these requirements and make sure you’re on the path to obtain all four.
A UAV training course is the best way to fully understand FAA rules for commercial drone flight, but we’ll briefly explain each requirement. The Section 333 grant of exemption is one of the most important requirements for commercial flight, and basically just means you’re applying to be exempt from FAA regulations for your commercial operation with specific limitations and rules for each case. A COA on the other hand is a permit allowing for a specific aircraft to operate in a specific airspace for a specific purpose. You’ll need to register your UAV online if it’s between 0.55 and 55 pounds as mentioned before to apply for either a Section 333 exception or COA, and the pilot must have an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate. These terms may seem like FAA jargon right now, which is why drone training is hugely helpful in making sure you’re familiar with each of these requirements and understand how to fly a commercial drone legally.
While the rules for commercial flying listed above are still in effect, the FAA is planning to make big changes in how drones are integrated into our airspace and UAV training will become even more important to become a pilot. At the beginning of last year, the FAA published a set of potential rules to better accommodate how rapidly drone technology is effecting business capabilities. Instead of requiring a pilot’s license, the UAV operator will instead need to pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an operator certificate – a sort of driver’s license to fly a drone commercially. UAV training courses will most likely be the way these certifications are achieved in the future and colleges and universities are already gearing up to offer certificates and degrees in the rapidly growing industry. Even with the new operator requirements, the FAA will always focus on making sure drone operators are flying in a safe and responsible manner and drone pilot training is key in ensuring you’re not being reckless no matter what the rules are. The new regulations are not in effect in any way yet, but are expected to be implemented sometime in 2016.
The drone boom will bring new career opportunities, drone-related jobs projected to explode into the job market with numbers as high as 100,000 new jobs in the next 10 years. The economic impact and demand is going to be huge, so receiving drone training now and being familiar with the technology would ensure you’re ahead of curve if a drone-related career is appealing to you. Pilots won’t be the only occupation in demand in the coming years though; the field will need skilled workers to manufacture drones, engineers to develop the technology, programmers to coordinate them, technicians to maintain them, instructors to teach every profession, and even more jobs the more specialized the drone’s task. Drone training now is going to be beneficial no matter what career path you’re taking – whether you’re flying or working on a drone, you need to know the machine.
UAV training is important to anyone involved in drones because there is much more involved than simply learning to fly, no matter what purpose you’re using your drone for. Flying responsibly and understanding the legal side of operating a drone is part of being a successful pilot, whether you’re a hobbyist or building a business with the booming technology. Drone technology is only going to continue advancing at an explosive pace and our rules and regulations will continue to change to accommodate the new industry. If you’re interested in drones now, drone training can help ensure you’re going into the approaching boom with the best set of skills possible.