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Industrial drone operator standard launched

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Drone pilots working on engineering construction sites can now undertake training and technical testing.

The new Industrial Drone Operations Training Standard, developed by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (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 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 starts with a theory phase followed by practical flight training on rotary and fixed wing drones of up to 20kgs. Following successful completion of the training, and after a period of work-based consolidation, candidates will undertake a technical assessment, which involves testing pre-flight preparations based on complex industrial scenarios, performing flight manoeuvres within set parameters and responding to emergency scenarios.

ECITB chief executive Chris Claydon 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.

“There’s no doubt we are 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 why we’ve delivered this rigorous new technical training standard that is recognised and valued by employers.”

The Industrial Drone Operations Training Standard is suitable for anyone that has passed the CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) training and can meet the course pre-requisites.

Successful candidates completing the technical test will be awarded an ECITB technical test certificate, which is valid for three years.

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