The ABC's of Starting a Drone Program: Training Your Pilots

We’ve covered certifying your program, and picking your aircraft, but what is the best way to train your pilots?

There are several different programs out there, but the important thing is to make sure you have more than just the classroom information.

Many online Part 107 training programs just teach you enough to pass the test. Largely absent from those classes is any information about how to actually fly a drone, so hands-on and in-person training is a must.

Under a COA, the FAA allows departments to self-certify their operators, so that puts quite a bit of responsibility on program managers to make decisions about training.

Any training program you look at should include as many of the following items as possible:

  • An understanding of the different types of airspace, and how you can and cannot operate within them.
  • Aviation weather, weather products, and how they apply to UAV flight.
  • Basic understanding of your equipment, regular maintenance and repairs.
  • Understanding medical factors that may contribute to a pilots ability or inability to operate a drone safely.
  • Aeronautical decision making skills.
  • Understanding airport environments, and how to operate safely near them.
  • Radio communications and the air traffic control system.
  • Actual flight techniques, checklists, and emergency procedures.
  • FAA policies, procedures, reporting requirements and documentation.
  • An understanding of what a COA is, and how to operate safely under one.
  • An understanding of how to develop policies and procedures for your agency.

At Skyfire, our Public Safety UAV Training Course offers all of these, both in the classroom and in practice, over a two-day period, and allows you to operate safely and with confidence in your knowledge of UAV rules, regulations and procedures.

The bottom line is that there is no right way to start a drone program, it will be different for each agency, their political climate, their budget and their mission, but if you are going to start a UAV program, there are several things you need to insure your program has.

Obviously, the more equipment, services and training you get, the higher the price tag of a program, but there are lots of grants to help pay for you UAV program, and Skyfire can help you identify which grants may be right for you. (Contact us for free grant assistance.)

Starting a drone program without a plan, training, political approval or some type of FAA authorization would be like taking the wheel of a fire truck with no training - it’s not safe, it’s not responsible, and it will likely land you in hot water in some way or another.