The biggest decision you will make is not what drone to buy, or how many batteries you will need, but which training provider you should choose.
The market seems saturated with choice; there are over 20 different providers called National Qualified Entities (NQE) and all seem to be offering something different. But surely they all provide the same end result? The only thing you want at this stage is the training that will get you the recommendation for the award of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO). A typical comment we hear is:
“This must only be a box ticking exercise and then I am on my way. Therefore it makes sense to go with the cheapest.”
There are some who will operate like that; they will want to save a few hundred pounds and get an extra battery. These are the pilots who have not thought things through properly. If your normal habit as a pilot is to not think things through, then we can guarantee one thing; your business will not be very successful and your operation will appear to others in the same cheap light.
In aviation we are famed for operating from checklists, so here is a checklist you can follow to help you select your training provider:
Does the website look and feel like that of a professional outfit? If the company has invested time and effort into getting the message across to you properly, then that will probably be the case in the classroom and out on the training and test areas. A company should be trying to engage with you and build a professional relationship right from the start. It is laying out its stall for you to choose a product that suits you. It is trying to tell you why you should book with them. If the website looks like a cheap home-built one with out-of-date information, then their courseware will probably be the same.
Does the company offer training over a large geographical area and does it service those locations frequently? This will be an indicator of the overall ambition and self-belief of the training organisation. It also shows that they have a depth of resources, and have decided to be a larger player in the industry. Larger training footprints allow a company to offer alternative solutions, to enable a student to catch up if they have missed a vital element for whatever reason, possibly through weather.
Am I impressed by the quality of the instructor’s credentials? The modern and future UAV operating environment will become much more complex, and pilots will have to integrate with an ever more involved aviation framework. Some NQEs will tell you that their instructors are the best in the industry, but that is all dependent on their perspective. If their depth of experience has been gained from flying many years of radio-controlled (RC) aircraft, this is going to be billed as the reason for them to be your best choice. If the instructors have a background flying airliners, their ability to teach you about manned aviation principles will be their selling point. Some companies make a great deal about having instructors who are ex-military pilots, and they will explain why the discipline they demonstrate will benefit you in the long run. We would be asking ourselves the following questions. What did you do in the military? How can that possibly benefit us as individuals once we have graduated. Being in the military is of course a great indicator of personal qualities. Flyby Technology has taken things one step further and has a depth of knowledge from all areas, RC, airline flying and military flying. But our instructors are all qualified as instructors of pilots, and have been trained to instruct at the highest level of competence. We regularly see pilots flying and making possibly 7 errors on a typical flight. An untrained instructor will recognise 4 of them. An untrained instructor with some experience will spot 5 or even 7 and point them all out to the student. Our instructors will spot 7, but will think about the key fault and analyse it. They will then give you advice to correct the one error that caused another 4. You will be able to absorb the training to fix just one error, but in so doing you now have 2 errors remaining; until the instructor decides to tackle those. This will mean that you advance rapidly through the flight training, gaining more confidence as you go, and flying is all about confidence.
Is this company going to be helping me in the future? A lot of NQEs complete your training and then will no longer give you advice. You are left with your Operations Manual, which will go rapidly out-of-date, to steer your own path through a regulatory framework, that gets ever more difficult to navigate. Large and often seismic events happen regularly in aviation, as the rules attempt to catch up with operational necessity. Does this NQE provide an after-care service? Will it be able to help me when I get something wrong? When the rules changed in August 2016, the Flyby Technology Team used its expertise as a training provider operating worldwide, to respond effectively in a very short timeframe. Within 2 hours of the changes being promulgated, all of our training materials had been updated, and every pilot inside our standard had been sent an email outlining the impacts. Also our new pilots benefit from being part of our safety management system. We help at just the moment you need it, when something has gone very wrong indeed. You represent our training once you graduate, and so we want to help you through the difficulties we know are out there.
What products will I receive to help me through the course? The quality and applicability of courseware is another key aspect when choosing a provider. Some NQEs operate using online web-based training systems, whilst others do a lot more “Chalk and Talk” in the classroom. Online courses are usually used as a cost-saving measure, and it serves a purpose for the NQE and not necessarily for the student. Some are able to offer an online course and repeat it in the classroom, before you are examined on the content. At Flyby Technology and in partnership with Pilotwise International Ltd we are involved in the production of training materials, that are at the cutting-edge of training science. Customers have included many overseas military organisations and at home we have provided courseware to all of the armed services. We also provide certain global brand aircraft manufacturers with state-of-the-art training materials. A team of consultants and in-house graphics artists, work closely together to build amazing products, and you get to benefit from that experience. You get a hard copy of our student study guide that will be yours to refer to for ever. It is a most comprehensive document and can be used to keep all of your paperwork safe and sound. No NQE will tell you the exact content of their courseware. They will be providing at least the minimum stipulated in CAP 722, the guidance document for UAV operations in the UK. Flyby Technology has taken that list and has added what it feels you should really be taught. We spend many hours teaching you about pilot thought processes, cultures and behaviours. We also cover planning principles, effective communication and the management of workload. We also give you techniques to maintain or re-build lost situational awareness.
How will this NQE react to something slowing down my training? You can find out a lot about a company when something goes wrong, but by then it is often too late to change your choice. You have parted with your hard-earned money by then. Aviation is only about a hundred years old and is still finding its feet. One thing we do know is that things go wrong, and when they do they need fixing. People become ill, families have problems, and employers don’t follow through on promises. If your NQE is competing at the bottom end of the market at a very low price point, there may not be an appetite for being human about releasing a pilot from their course, without unacceptable penalties. Just when you need them the most, they may not be supporting you. At Flyby Technology we understand that no plan ever gets to the final finish line as it was at first intended. Life happens to us all. Just as we would expect our customers to be sympathetic to impacts that have recently happened to an instructor’s life; we take pride in making sure that the pastoral and emotional needs of our customers are taken into consideration. A person cannot fly if they have a lot of external stressors on their minds. It is often better to stop, sort out the problem and then resume at a more appropriate time.
Why should I pay £1200 when I can get exactly the same thing and achieve the same result for £995? The answer will be that you won’t be achieving the same thing at all. You get what you pay for. If you look above at the other categories you will have agreed with all of those points. Those elements cost NQEs money to provide. Look at it a different way. You are making the most important investment you will make in your new career. If you cannot invest in your own training what can you invest in? Would you pay £205 for a couple of new batteries? Yes, but you will get around 200 flights out of them. Would you spend £205 on a better drone? Yes, but you will soon out-grow it and need another, because the difference that £205 makes is negligible. But £205 spent on credible, effective and science-based training, delivered by experienced experts, will set your operation up for life! Getting free on-going support for the whole time you remain with that provider is worth a great deal more than £205. Being able to say with pride that a specific company trained you is of significant value. You have to look at quality not quantity to be successful, or you will be just another person who tried and failed to make it in this most exciting of industries. Nobody is going to ring you to offer you work if you spend a few pounds on a cheap website. So why would you expect to be able to operate like a professional if you have not been trained by professionals?
Look for a team that matches your expectations in all of the above areas before making up your mind. This choice is the most important one you will make in setting up your new career. Take a look at what we provide before making up your mind. VIEW OUR COURSES >