NATS launches course for drone users

5 Apr 2016 by Tom Otley
NATS, the air navigation services specialist, which provides air traffic control services at 13 UK airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow is now offering courses to users of drones. The use of drones has caused alarm at airports in the UK, with many near-misses recorded with commercial aircraft (see news, July 2015, Reckless drone pilots face jail terms) Neverthelless, the popularity of drones even led Manchester Airport to issue guidelines for those considering them as a gift for Christmas (see news, December 2015) The new course is available to private individuals, small companies or large organisations who intend to use a drone for commercial purposes. The intention is that users will learn how to fly their unmanned aircraft safely in a new three-day course. Drone flying course The course includes teaching on a number of subjects relating to drone flying including aviation law; meteorological studies; navigation studies; the principles of flight and RPAS best practices. It also includes a practical flying assessment to CAA approved standards. Before attending the course delegates must be able to demonstrate that they are already proficient in flying a drone in a relatively small area. NATS has already delivered a number of drone courses from its Control Centre in Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland. The new course will be launched at NATS headquarters in Whiteley, Hampshire, in May. Colin Houston, leading the RPAS course at NATS, said: “With remotely piloted aircraft systems becoming increasingly popular, we want to be able help people and companies use them safely in the airspace. Our tailored training course is provided by Air Traffic Control (ATC) professionals with comprehensive operational RPAS experience.” The course has been designed to instruct operators to a level which will satisfy the safety and operational requirements outlined by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). To successfully complete the course, attendees will have to pass the theory and practical flying session and will also be required to create and maintain an Operating Manual/Operating Safety Case. This will be covered in greater depth during the course, and is a vital step towards obtaining CAA Permissions/exemptions.
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