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Propelling the UK commercial drone industry to new heights

13 February 2018

NATS and Sky-Futures announced a partnership that will change the landscape of drone training in the UK, for commercial use and emergency services.

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The initiative will bring NATS’ airspace and aviation expertise together with Sky-Futures’ technical drone-flying skills to deliver expert training to the burgeoning commercial drone sector and the emergency services.

As businesses and public services increasingly seek to embrace the benefits of drone technology, the NATS/Sky-Futures partnership will deliver tailored, scenario-based training that will aim to set a new standard for the UK. As well as online theory training about aviation law and responsible flying, students will receive advanced training on how to safely operate a drone in scenarios that closely match their own working environment.

Customers will be trained at the Sky-Futures Training Academy (SFTA) near Oxford as well as at NATS operational centres in Swanwick and Prestwick. Facilities at the SFTA include a ship, railway line, motorway, oil rig, metal towers and commercial buildings – a customer who inspects transmission towers, for example, will be trained how to prepare for this type of operation and how to use a drone as an inspection tool. This level of role-specific training is unmatched in the UK.

James Cranswick, NATS Drones Business Manager said: “This is an exciting development that takes us closer to safely realising the potential of this emerging industry in the UK. We recognise drones have huge potential to deliver benefits across society and to our economy and, by partnering with Sky-Futures, we can offer commercial drone operators the all-round training necessary for the drone industry to flourish safely alongside the traditional aviation industry.”

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


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