Category Archives for "Civilian Drones"
As the UAS industry continues to evolve it must come as no surprise that drone pilots jobs are increasing proportionally with this expansion. Just like the rapid growth of the mobile phone network a few decades ago there are now many opportunities for solo operators, small businesses, and large companies.
Note: If you would prefer to hear this post instead of reading it then here’s the video version. You’ll find other videos of this type in my YouTube channel.
Drone pilots have several benefits to enjoy and to look forward to as they begin and continue their careers.
With the growth of the UAS industry there is a high probability of continuous and secure employment. Estimates from industry associations suggest that there will be hundreds of thousand of new drone pilots jobs in the USA and the UK in the next few decades.
Along with the jobs for drone pilots themselves there are all the other roles that the industry creates; trainers, hardware designers, software developers, engineers, and regulatory, ancillary & administration staff.
The same expansion could create demand that exceeds supply and thereby increase salaries for drone pilots with competition for the number of experienced UAV operators, especially those with rare skills.
Some drone pilots have opted for starting their own companies and finding work through their own marketing skills. Others prefer to leave running a business to an employer and have found positions in companies that provide the advantages of steady employment.
Salaries are of course commensurate with skills and experience. An ex-military UAV pilot who use to fly Reapers and is now operating a civilian equivalent for meteorological research purposes will earn more than a DJI Phantom pilot doing urban roof inspections!
Job Variety & Interest
There are already many uses for UAV and as new hardware and software is developed this is likely to continue to increase. Drone pilots can expect to be given tasks that test their abilities in variety of environments and climates.
A drone pilot can expect to work in rural, urban, and industrial areas. There is no limit to where filming might be required from one week to the next. It’s part of the attraction and adds a certain level of excitement not knowing where you’ll be from one week to the next.
Following on from the point about variety there are also the prospect of foreign travel. Although the UAS industry in expanding rapidly the growth is not consistent among countries in the developed world.
Already drone pilots in the UK and USA are finding that their skills are required not just at home but abroad too. Some countries still have strict regulations that have slowed or even prohibited the growth of the UAS industry. However, the demand for aerial photography remains so companies that need that service have looked abroad and contracted out for the task.
Drone pilots who specialise in a particular discipline can develop skills that are rare and therefore in high demand.
Like all technologies there few people who are experts in every field and most will choose to have one main area of expertise while still being competent in several others.
There’s an old joke in aviation:
Q: How can you tell if there’s a pilot in the room?
A: He’ll tell you.
Let’s face it, when someone asks you what you do for a living telling them you fly drones is likely to be the start of an interesting conversation, even if the listener is wary of them and the risks, real or imagined.
People are interested in new technology and drones are at the leading edge now. The only disadvantage to this curiosity is that some people see fit to walk up to you with a list of questions while you’re concentrating on flying safely and according to the flight plan!
For those who have begun a career in this new Drone Age then the prospects are very good indeed. As described above there is likely to be job security, opportunities for variety, and rising salaries.
However, drone pilots will need to maintain their skills and learn new ones. As the technology develops so will they also need to keep abreast of these developments and incorporate them into their skillsets.
If at any time flying the drones themselves with all that it involves; travel (domestic or foreign), being out in all weathers, and locations etc, then the UAV operator can move into a variety of roles that will make use of his or her experience in the field.
All those entries in the pilot’s logbook can become fertile ground for developers and designers who know first hand where there is room for improvement in both aircraft design and software utilities.
European aviation regulator EASA has published a list of proposed new drone rules for operations within EU airspace. Take a look at a summary of these proposals on EASA’s website . Essentially they plan to divide drones into three categories based on the risk they present rather than take-off weight. Take-off weight has been the most popular drone categorisation for regulators like the UK CAA so far. Within the risk categories there will be further sub-divisions depending on the size of the drone and the type of operation.
These are just proposals for now and we all have until September to comment. The document explains how to do that.
Was the drone footage of migrants camped on the Greece/Macedonia border a bad example from the BBC?
Right now there is a daily debate about the public use of drones; where and when they can fly, who can fly them, what is safe. Of course the UK CAA has published some easy to follow guidance in their Drone Code and if everyone stuck to it there would be less of an issue. But non-professional hobby drone fliers may not even be aware of the guidance or if they are they may not properly understand it all, so they might take their lead from what they see on TV. Which brings me to the BBC.
On Tuesday March 8th the BBC’s reporter was in the ever growing migrant/refugee encampment on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia. As he talked the video cut to some drone footage showing the appalling conditions and the sheer size of the camp – so far, so good (or so bad in fact…). Then the drone was clearly flown right over the camp and the thousands of people in it. Under the CAA rules this would not be permitted – surely this was an organised gathering of more than 1,000 people?
The CAA has no jurisdiction in Greece but this seems to set a very public example of breaching the UK rules.