UAV Pilot Training
Five Things to consider
UAV pilot training is becoming an increasingly popular flight training option. Still in the early phases of development, the UAV industry is an exciting industry to follow, but one that is often difficult to understand and often breeds misconceptions. If you’re interested in UAVs and UAV pilot training, you should consider several things before starting your training.
UAV pilot training is all new
Modern UAVs are so much more than glorified remote control planes. They are in a near constant state of development, with new models rapidly out pacing the capabilities of models of just a few years ago. Not to mention, the FAA has struggled to keep pace with regard to establishing a framework to govern UAV pilot certification. The end result is that UAV pilot training is all new and changes a lot. Those interested in UAV pilot training would do well to follow the FAA’s UAS Integration initiative (http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/).
UAV pilot training might not be available to you
Due in part to its newness, UAV pilot training isn’t yet widely available. New training providers are regularly starting courses in anticipation of the FAA developing a real UAS pilot certificate, but training is still likely to require a bit of travel on your part. Many of the best training providers are also heavily involved in UAV research in general, including several colleges an universities who recently sponsored test site proposals. As such, you might also need to be accepted to that college or university in general before being able to actually enroll in UAV pilot training.
Learning to fly UAVs isn’t any easier than regular flight training
The only real difference in flying a UAV and flying a more conventional aircraft is the location of the pilot. It is a common misconception that flying UAVs is some how less difficult than regular flying, but this is simply not accurate. If anything, flying a UAV is more difficult due to the lack of physical sensations of motion. In either case, learning to fly UAVs requires the same understanding of scientific and technical principles of flight as any flight training program.
UAV flight training is rapidly changing
As the FAA progresses through the process of integrating UAS into the National Airspace System, they continue to develop best practices and guidelines for training that will provide the basis for the UAV pilot certification process. While there are currently no UAV pilot certificates, it is only reasonable to expect at least a commercial certification to be developed and required in order to operate a UAV. Until such a time as that certification becomes available, it is likely there will be numerous changes and developments to cope with.
UAV pilot training is for the future
It is most important to understand that, unlike helicopter flight training for example, UAV pilot training is for the future. It is certainly not the distant future, but you can’t exactly walk out of a UAV pilot training program into a nice 9 to 5 job flying remotely-piloted aircraft. Please don’t let that stop you from pursuing UAV pilot training, but do be aware that you’re developing skills for the future in a fascinating and innovative career field.
UAV pilot training is experiencing rapid growth and provides the skills of the future. Blended with a current flight training program for more conventional aircraft, you are not only setting the stage for an exciting career today, but you will provide the basis for a very exciting and lucrative future career that will be not only exceptionally interesting but very rewarding.