High-fly­ers need a li­cense as pi­lot train­ing takes off

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By FANFEIFEI fanfeifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

With ad­vance­ment in tech­nol­ogy, drones are likely to be used in greater num­bers in min­eral ex­plo­ration, traf­fic ad­min­is­tra­tion, dis­as­ter sur­veil­lance and agri­cul­ture. This means that a li­cense has be­come a ne­ces­sity to op­er­ate them.

A va­ri­ety of train­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions are swarm­ing into the bur­geon­ing mar­ket as the de­mand for drone pi­lots is on the rise.

Shen­zhen D-zooom Aerotech Co Ltd, one of the big­gest drone pi­lot train­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions, has trained more than 1,000 pro­fes­sional drone pi­lots and given drone sci­ence lessons to over 3,000 pri­mary and se­condary school stu­dents.

Liu Yueping, the pres­i­dent of Shen­zhen D-zooom said: “The re­search and tech­nol­ogy of drones needs to be stan­dard­ized, so it is not easy to train a qual­i­fied pi­lot. The types of drones are di­ver­si­fied and there is no stan­dard­ized tu­to­rial ma­te­rial to teach pi­lots.”

They have or­ga­nized tech­nol­ogy pro­fes­sion­als to de­sign train­ing ma­te­ri­als and con­duct cour­ses.

Ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tions by the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China in 2014, the un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles op­er­a­tors, whose UAVs weigh more than 7 kilo­grams or fly higher than 120me­ters, or fur­ther than 500 me­ters, are re­quired to have a li­cense is­sued by the Air­craft Own­ers and Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion, and ap­ply to the air traf­fic con­trol depart­ment for airspace and flight plans.

Sta­tis­tics fromAOPAshow there are 31 drone train­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions across the coun­try, while the num­ber of pi­lots who are li­censed is less than 700. It means the ma­jor­ity of drone pi­lots are fly­ing il­le­gally.

D-Zooom has been au­tho­rized by AOPA to is­sue its qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Liu added the stu­dents tak­ing the train­ing course are pro­fes­sion­als in drone com­pa­nies or peo­ple who want to

The re­search and tech­nol­ogy of drones needs to be stan­dard­ized, so it is not easy to train a qual­i­fied pi­lot. The types of drones are di­ver­si­fied and there is no stan­dard­ized tu­to­rial ma­te­rial to teach pi­lots.” pres­i­dent of Shen­zhen D-zooom

Liu Yueping, en­ter into the field.

The cost of train­ing at D-zooom ranges from 6,500 yuan ($962) to 41,800 yuan in ac­cor­dance with the type of drone, and takes 10 days to half a year. Trainees will be taught basic skills about how to op­er­ate dif­fer­ent kinds of drones.

Zhang Xiaokun, 28, a drone pi­lot from an aerial pho­tog­ra­phy com­pany, said “the av­er­age salary is 3,000 yuan to 4,000 yuan, and in sum­mer peak sea­son, we could earn more than 10,000 yuan per month.’’ A pi­lot with more hours and main­te­nance ex­pe­ri­ence could earn more.

Zhang said the work is not easy as aerial pho­tog­ra­phy needs to con­sider light and weather con­di­tions, adding it is com­mon to work from dawn to night.

The value of China’s drone in­dus­try could reach 75 billion yuan by 2025, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Bei­jing-based iRe­search Con­sult­ing Group.

Jean Xiao, a re­search an­a­lyst from IDC said drone man­u­fac­tur­ers are fo­cus­ing on the drone pi­lot train­ing sec­tor, such as es­tab­lish­ing spe­cial­ized train­ing schools to cul­ti­vate tal­ent, adding some pri­mary and se­condary schools con­duct cour­ses about drone op­er­a­tions to de­velop in­ter­est.

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