Drone demos steal the show as UK air traffic control provider NATS partners with Sky-Futures and software company in new venture

NATS, the UK’s leading air traffic control provider, and Sky-Futures, a world leader in commercial drone-based inspection services and training, have unveiled a ground-breaking new combined training course for commercial pilots at a launch event featuring hi-tech drone search-and-rescue and inspection demonstrations at an emergency services training facility in Gloucestershire.

The demonstrations, which saw state-of-the-art Intel Falcon 8+ and DJI Inspire 1 drones conducting complex, high-spec inspections of mocked-up disaster sites including a collapsed building, showcased some of the practical skills-training offered by the new drone pilot ‘combined’ course.

The combined Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) course syllabus can be adapted to meet the individual needs of trainees working in specific areas such as construction, offshore oil and gas, or the emergency services for example, and encompasses in-depth theoretical instruction in airspace and safety as well as real-life scenario-based training. It is designed to ensure organisations can secure the Civil Aviation Authority permissions required for drone pilots to operate commercially, whilst providing expert guidance on using drones safely in professional or commercial environments.

Tuesday’s launch event (15 May) was held at the Sky-Futures Training Academy near Oxford, situated at the UK Fire Service College outside Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, where state-of-the-art drone pilot training facilities including mocked-up disaster scenarios including a ship, a railway line, an oil rig, metal towers and commercial buildings will be used for advanced inspection procedure training. The new combined course will also be taught at NATS’ operational air traffic control centres in Swanwick, Hampshire, and Prestwick, Ayrshire (Scotland).

James Cranswick, NATS Drones Business Manager said: “This new combined course represents NATS’ latest initiative aimed at promoting the safe integration of drones into the skies above us. We recognise that drones have huge potential to deliver benefits across society and to the UK economy, so it’s essential that this industry aims for the highest possible safety standards from the start.

“By partnering with Sky-Futures to offer best-in-class combined practical and theoretical drone training, we hope to offer commercial drone operators the all-round training that will allow commercially-piloted drones to operate safely alongside the traditional aviation industry and deliver real benefit to their organisations and the UK as a whole.”

Sky-Futures co-founder, Chief Regulatory and Training Officer and a qualified commercial airline pilot, Nick Rogers, said: “The combined strengths of Sky-Futures and NATS form the basis of a market-leading training partnership. Together, we will continue to work towards improving the overall standard of commercial drone pilot training and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of this exciting industry.”

About NATS

NATS is a leading air traffic management and solutions company, established in the UK in 1962 and now operating in countries around the world.

NATS handled 2.6 million flights in 2017, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic from its centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS also provides air traffic services at 14 UK airports; at Gibraltar Airport and, in a joint venture with Ferrovial, at a number of airport towers in Spain.

NATS has taken a leading role in encouraging the safe and responsible use of drones in the UK, offering a range of resources for drone operators including the free Drone Assist app, an online Drones Portal (https://drones.nats.aero) with resources for drone operators and providing NQE-level drone training with resident experts.

For more information visit the NATS website at www.nats.aero

About Sky-Futures

Sky-Futures helps businesses improve safety and reduce risk through technological innovation. Formed in 2009, the company has established itself as the world’s leading provider of drone-based inspection services to global industrial markets.

Sky-Futures has leveraged this industry-leading operational expertise and experience to develop ground-breaking software and technology solutions that allow enterprise clients to harness effectively the power of drone-driven data collection and analysis.

Sky-Futures enables enterprises to perform safe and cost-effective drone inspections across a variety of vertical infrastructures including, but not limited to, the following industries: renewables, oil and gas, utilities, telecoms and bridges for customers in the UK, Europe, South East Asia, Middle East, North America, and Africa. For more information visit www.sky-futures.com

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