Drone pilots working on industrial sites can ‘earn their wings’ by undertaking a programme of structured training and technical testing which has been given the green light by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB). The new Industrial Drone Operations Training Standard, developed by the ECITB along with employers and experts, will assess drone operators against industry-approved requirements.
This new standard is designed to build upon the current Civil Aviation Authority scheme, delivering the specialist skills and knowledge to ensure that operators can undertake drone activities safely in and around industrial process sites that have specific operational hazards and constraints.
The initial off-the-job training commences with a theory phase followed by practical flight training on rotary and fixed wing drones of up to 20 kgs. Following successful completion of the training, and after a period of work-based consolidation, candidates will then undertake a vigorous technical assessment. The latter involves testing pre-flight preparations based on complex industrial scenarios, performing flight manoeuvres within set parameters and responding to emergency scenarios.
Chris Claydon, CEO of the ECITB, said: “Drones are becoming increasingly common across engineering construction sites from monitoring and surveying sites to checking wear and tear on installations, such as offshore platforms and wind turbines. They reduce the need for people to carry out hazardous inspections and make these essential processes quicker and cheaper.”
Claydon continued: “There’s no doubt that we’re on the cusp of a major shift in work practices with clear practical and financial benefits that means the use of drones will become the norm across the engineering construction industry. This is a trend the ECITB has identified, and is precisely why we’ve delivered this rigorous new technical training standard that’s recognised and valued by employers.”
Thousands of drones could soon be flying above the UK’s engineering construction sites and critical infrastructure as just one of a host of fourth industrial revolution technologies set to transform how the engineering construction industry works. A recent report by PwC, entitled ‘Skies Without Limits’, puts the value of drone technology to the UK’s wider construction and manufacturing sector at up to £3.5 billion and forecasts that, by 2030, there will be more than 76,000 operator-controlled drones in regular use.
The Industrial Drone Operations Training Standard is suitable for anyone that has passed the CAA Permission for Commercial Operations training and can meet the course pre-requisites. Successful candidates completing the technical test will be awarded an ECITB technical test certificate which is then valid for three years.