Yay! South Africa has just scored first in Africa following a two week ICAO Safety Inspection. While Afro-pessimists may giggle into their mug of Eurospite and bitters, that puts us in 33rd place globally. Not too shabby. A big plus is the drop according to ICAO and the Transport Minister, in the number of non-commercial accidents. They’re down 50% with the stark numbers really a thumbs up to our training institutions – down to 72 deaths in the last year from 144 in 2012/13. The audit was conducted between the 8th and 18th of May according to information just released by the Transport Ministry and was covered in a previous blog post (see below).
So another training opportunity has arisen and boy! (or girl!) I’m excited. I’ve signed up to do CAA certified drone pilot training but its not for the faint hearted. Because its pretty expensive. To give you an idea just how expensive – its about a fifth of the price of a full pilot’s license. If you’re quick enough, a PPL could cost between R250 000 and R350 000 depending on how many hours you fly and how you compress the training. Drone training costs R50 000 and that’s before you buy the little thing. Which costs at least another R10k for the basic piece of kit and around R35-40k for a good aerial vehicle with camera/s.
Luckily in my case its about half that price because I have a PPL. Had I walked into this course without any theory in aviation, the cost would be significantly higher. But that doesn’t mean its easy. The CAA along with civil aviation authorities everywhere has now ordered pilots to be certified when your Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ( UAV) or drone is of a certain size. Being a videographer come aviator, the idea is obviously most attractive. I’ve already filmed quite a bit from the cockpit and even in a Cirrus with its low-slung wing, so that’s feasible. And we’ve also shot a few videos from a borrowed drone for a series I’m filming for SADC.
But the idea of having our own drone and using it to garner great footage within the law is a real attraction. News organisations are falling over themselves to use these inconspicuous UAV’s over protests and police action. This is a quick update ‘cos there’s a need to attend a special safety evening at the hangar and I can’t dilly dally. Look out for updates on the UAV training on this site in the next few weeks.