Andrew Hamilton, Iprosurv’s new Director of Training and Development, talks about how he believes training and practical experience are the only way the commercial drone sector will secure the public trust that it needs to thrive.
It’s always exciting to start out on a new part of your career but joining Iprosurv as Director of Training and Development is particularly exciting as it feels we are on the cusp of something big.
Rebecca, the CEO of Iprosurv, will tell you that getting industry switched on to the potential of drones wasn’t an overnight thing and she and co-founder Shane have spent the last seven years convincing the world of business, one sector and one organisation at a time, that drones can revolutionise their operations.
And of course, they’ve not been alone in that – there are a growing number of commercial drone operators up and down the country doing the same and it is great to see them turning more and more organisations on to drones.
But that growth comes with a risk. There is still a general wariness of drones and while some organisations have plunged in, the majority are still dipping their toe to see what happens.
What every company experiences when they try drones for the first time, will have an impact on their perception of the drone sector and that one experience with one pilot can have serious consequences for all of us. Our collective reputation is at risk with every flight undertaken which is why it is so important that every flight is performed to the highest standards.
While it is a concern, it is also a huge opportunity for everyone in the sector which is why I’m so excited to have joined Iprosurv and to get started on the training.
My introduction to drones
I got into training by accident really. In 2013, I bought my first Phantom 1 with GoPro Hero 3 camera attached and after completing my drone training I was awarded my first PfCO in October 2014.
At the time, I was a serving Police Officer on the Roads Policing Unit where I was involved in investigating fatal road traffic collisions. At the time, we relied on the police helicopter to provide the aerial footage for our investigations but during one investigation the police helicopter was redeployed to a life-threatening incident and I was unable to get the aerial footage I needed.
So I decided to bring my drone out on patrol with me. Looking at the data the drone had collected was a big moment as we could all see in that one deployment how much more efficient and effective they could be.
I retired from the Police in 2016 but returned in 2017 to set up the first dedicated Police drone unit in the UK with up to 40 pilots and 15 drones. After their initial PfCO courses the drone unit would then teach the officers to fly drones in policing situations which is when my passion for teaching and training revealed itself.
That passion took to me to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as their UAS Sector lead, where I led a team dealing with OSC applications, auditing, oversight and enforcement of drone operators.
From there I became the Lead Instructor for an RAE delivering drone training on behalf of the CAA. The role of an RAE is to assist the CAA in assuring the competence of remote pilots that require an Operational Authorisation through the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC).
The competency of UA pilots involved in the operation of an unmanned aircraft is one of the main factors in ensuring UA operations remain tolerably safe and give confidence for this industry.
And that was me – hooked on training new drone pilots and providing real flight time experience to them.
It’s all about professionalism
One of the key things that attracted me to Iprosurv was Rebecca and Shane’s commitment to high standards of training for all their pilots and their insistence that the sector had to become more professional if it was ever to fully realise its potential.
The training and development of all pilots in the Iprosurv network, supporting them as they take the step in flight ability and safety, is my number one priority and the more training we provide in new technology, techniques and regulatory requirements, the more professional our pilots will become.
As that professionalism starts to act as a differentiator for Iprosurv, others will hopefully be galvanised to similarly invest in best practice and training. Everyone operating in the commercial drone sector needs to continually challenge themselves and their peers to achieve ever higher standards.
If we do that for ourselves and for each other, I am convinced that we will all secure the trust from the public and from business that we need to ensure that commercial drones secure their rightful place as an intrinsic part of the economy.
For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Established in 2014, Iprosurv is a pioneer in the provision of drone technology in the insurance industry and beyond. Its current network of pilots, covering the entirety of the UK, use a proprietary system to record, store and deliver drone data to clients in a fast and secure manner. From building surveys to flood response to assisting emergency services, Iprosurv continues to push the boundaries of how drones can be used in business.