Australia's 1st drone piloting course

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-19 07:46

Australia's 1st drone piloting course

A drone in Jilin city, Jilin province, in June. [Photo by Zhu Wanchang/For China Daily]

The University of Adelaide has become Australia's first university to gain accreditation to offer a course in professional drone piloting, in what has been described as a major step forward for commercial drone use in Australia.

The university has announced it will offer an intensive, five-day course at a cost of A$3,500 ($2,660), which will allow professionals to use the drones with greater freedom, opening up greater opportunities in filmmaking among other key industries.

In an interview with Xinhua on July 11, Prof Lian Pin Koh from the University of Adelaide's Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility said while hobby drone pilots might not need a license to fly their machines, they are restricted in what they are allowed to do.

"For most people who want to fly a drone for recreation, they can learn to fly the aircraft themselves without needing a license," Koh says, if they "abide by a set of standard operating conditions specified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority", like, not flying above 122 meters.

"However, the situation is different if a person wants to fly a drone for work, for example, to take video shots of a property for a real estate company. In that case, this drone operator would need to be professionally trained by undertaking a course like ours, and be holding a Remote Pilot License before they are allowed to do so.

"Having a license also allows you seek permission or exemptions from CASA to perform more complicated or riskier tasks."

Koh says that he expects a wide range of people to undertake the training considering the benefits the course brings, saying that he has heard of interest from professional photographers and engineers, and amateur pilots who want to further their learning.

"We expect trainees from a diverse field, from high school students who aspire to be drone pilots, through professional photographers and videographers, to engineers in the oil and gas industry who want to use this technology in their work," Koh says.

The professor says gaining the accreditation is a major step forward for not only the university, but the Australian drone landscape. The courses are set to begin in August.

"When I first started on this path, colleagues at my former university thought I was wasting my time on toys and laughed," Koh says. He joined the university in 2014 and made it his mission operating drone as a research tool, and making students drone pilots.

 With support from bosses and staff, he's happy "this dream is finally coming to fruition".

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