By Tiamiyou Radji, Senegal Flying Labs
Sustainable drone use in West Africa for humanitarian aid, development, conservation, urban planning, and agriculture begins with a good understanding of the technology, including its strengths and its limitations. And, increasingly, more West African countries require certification standards to commercially operate drones with welcomed but stringent requirements by most CAAs. As part of the leading drone groups in the West Africa region, Senegal Flying Labs strives for the highest operational standards.
Therefore, Senegal Flying Labs and its partners will host a drone certification course with UK-based instructors, testing drone pilots on theoretical competence, as well as their operational expertise. We decided to go above and beyond and looked at one of the highest international certifications: The UK Civil Aviation Certificate of Competency.
The Aerial Academy, a qualified national entity under UK CAA rules, will train, assess, and certify seven Flying Labs—Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, and Sierra Leone). First, the course theory, covering aircraft knowledge, aviation safety, operating principles, air law, meteorology, navigation, as well as considering human factors and operating procedures. Second, the theory and practice sessions when each pilot will be thoroughly tested on each topic, piloting skills, and operational and safety management. Each qualified participant who completes the theoretical and functional assessment will receive an official UK CAA certificate of competency.
This certification will put pilots from the seven participating countries on par with UK-based pilots operating in one of the most complex airspaces in the world. By being proactive West African Flying Labs will not only address the more stringent Civil Aviation requirements they will have gone beyond and become internationally certified drone pilots.