When it comes to operating a drone, many falsely believe that it is a simple process that anyone can do. Drone manufacturers are making models that are increasingly user friendly, so getting them up in the air is relatively easy. But when it comes to flying a drone responsibly, pilots need to invest a little more into their drone knowledge. RUAS has become dedicated to making sure drone pilots are staying up to date on all drone regulations, bring the most responsible pilots to the UK.
RUAS was founded in 1991 in Newport, Wales as an aviation resource group. In 2012, they developed their unmanned aviation program called Resource Group Unmanned Aviation Services, rebranding to RUAS in 2017. They have become a premier provider of “remote pilot training and commercial flying operations across multiple industries,” as stated on their website. RUAS is an accredited UK Civil Aviation Authority(CAA), the equivalent of the FAA in the US, providing drone services in fields of inspection, photography, and surveying. But what they have become best known for is the training programs they provide for commercial drone pilots. Drone licensing laws in the UK are far stricter than in the US. In the US, only commercial drone flyers need to obtain a Part 107 license. In the UK, all drone pilots (commercial, hobby, adult, and children) need to be licensed and have their drone’s ID number visibly displayed on the drone. Any drone being flown without a licensed operator and visible ID number is illegal.
To ensure that the UK has the most up to date drone operators, RUAS offers training that goes well beyond the basic PfCO (Permissions for Commercial Operations). Obtaining a PfCO requires all drone pilots to pass a theoretical and practical exam. RUAS’s training programs cover everything from basic PfCO training to in-depth commercial applications, as well as programs to truly understand the hardware and software involved in drone operations. One of the keys behind being a responsible drone pilot, according to RUAS’s operations manager Paul German, is to continue educating pilots even after they have become certified.
“The drone regulations are constantly evolving and it is essential that qualified pilots keep up to date with any changes that are made,” German said. “A prime example of this is the Gatwick Drone Incident, which saw the introduction of the Flight Restrictions Zones to enhance aircraft safety around airports which applied to all drone users with no exceptions.” If a drone pilot recieved their PfCO before these regulations were changed, they are still required to know and abide by them. As drone use continues to increase, new regulations will also be put into effect. These regulations are made to ensure that everyone is protected at all times. It is the obligation of the pilot to make sure that they are always in compliance of drone laws.
Right now, in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, industries are looking to drones for assistance more than ever. Because of this, organizations like the FAA and CAA have to enact new regulations to enable safe drone flight. As many drone pilots are home bound, it is the perfect opportunity to study up some of these new laws so as to prepare oneself to use drones to their fullest ability. “There are resources out there that pilots can use to keep up to date with changes to regulations, for example, the CAA Skywise service is a fantastic tool. It is also important that approved training organizations provide information and useful resources for industry updates either through direct or indirect communications with their students,” German said. “It is certainly the case that we have had students return to do a refresher course in order to ensure they are up to date with the law and best practice in the industry.”