Training schools open up new horizons

Updated 2017-10-26 09:33:03 China Daily
Students receive training at a school run by Shenzhen D-zooom Aerotech Co Ltd. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Students receive training at a school run by Shenzhen D-zooom Aerotech Co Ltd. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Training drone operators has helped a whole new industry take off.

In just a few years, an army of schools and centers has sprung up, with Shenzhen D-zooom Aerotech Co Ltd one of the biggest players.

The pilot training organization has set up eight branches across the country for professional unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, operators, as well as wheeling out educational material for primary and secondary school students.

"The research and technology of drones needs to be standardized to make it easier to train qualified pilots," said Liu Yueping, president of D-zooom.

The types of drones are so diversified that a standardized tutorial program has yet to be officially approved, he pointed out.

To solve the problem, D-zooom has organized UAV professionals to design training manuals and run courses. Regulations rolled out by the Civil Aviation Administration of China require drone operators to have a license for UAVs which weigh more than 7 kilograms or fly higher than 120 meters, or further than 500 meters.

Under the CAAC rules, they must also apply to the relevant air traffic control departments for airspace and flight plans.

In order to become a certificated UAV pilot, trainees have to pass theoretical exams and flight tests to obtain a license issued by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association or AOPA.

Statistics from the AOPA showed the association issued 10,255 licenses for drone operators by the end of last year.

Although D-zooom continues to work closely with the AOPA, being a private company it does not have to disclose detailed financial figures, such as its revenue stream.

As for training, most of the students are professionals, who work for UAV companies, or people keen to break into the industry.

Part of the course involves advanced aerial theoretical knowledge, while costs range from 6,500 yuan (0) to 41,800 yuan.

Programs vary from 10 days to six months, depending on the type of drones and training.

"Right now, UAV operators are still in short supply and training should be strengthened," Liu said.

"Since tighter drone rules came in, it is necessary for people to go to training schools to obtain licenses before working in the industry," he added.

China is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial drones, despite increased restrictions on civilian UAV operators.

The sector is predicted to be worth 75 billion yuan by 2025, according to a report by iResearch Consulting Group in Beijing.

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