“Income seldom exceeds personal development.”
As the drone industry continues to grow and develop at a rapid rate, it’s crucial that pilots and operators do the same in order to improve their own standing with it. There’s a lot to learn beyond the basics of your PfCO as you perhaps build towards becoming a chief pilot in a specialist professional environment and, as wise men have often, said knowledge is power; or perhaps more pertinently, the more you learn, the more you earn!
Here at Coptrz, we offer an OFQUAL Level 5 Certificate in Commercial Drone Operations for Chief Pilots. A professional qualification, audited by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (OFQUAL) – a non-ministerial government department that reports directly to parliament. The course is the only additional qualification after the PfCO available in the UK for senior UAV professionals.
With current students ranging from surveyors to engineering geologists, civil engineers, project managers and VR professionals, the scope and appeal of the course is certainly wide. It is designed to elevate your academic understanding and practical applications beyond what you’ve learned on your PfCO course, and create new opportunities as part of your ongoing Continued Professional Development (CPD). Whether you’re looking to fine-tune your skills for personal advancement or to give your business an edge over the competition, there are plenty of benefits to improving your aerial education with us.
1. Stand Out From the Crowd
The one constant with every single commercial operator in the UK is that they will own a Permission for Commercial Operations. The clue is very much in the name and, as you will know, if you want to (legally) use drones in a professional capacity then you need to successfully complete a relevant course – which you can also study for here at Coptrz.
As great as it is to have that CAA-approved permission under your belt, as it proves to the world that you know how to safely operate a drone, using it as a selling point to potential clients or employers simply means you’re singing from the same hymn sheet as everyone else in the same market.
An OFQUAL Level 5 certificate immediately places you above any newly-qualified PfCO pilot, as it clearly defines you as a more knowledgeable, efficient and safety-conscious operator. Equivalent to HND level, or the second year of a Batchelor’s degree, it’s like applying for a job with an A-Level while all the other applicants are boasting about their GCSE’s…
2. Become a Better Operator
Whether you’re a chief pilot or managing aerial operations from a distance, the course will expand your understanding of what it takes to work in a safe and structured manner. Introducing more complex topics and digging much deeper into many areas of drone use – on both an academic and a practical level – you’ll be a far better operator by the end of the 5-day course (on-site and distance learning alternatives are available).
You’ll learn more about areas such as flight theory and airspace management, along with planning and conducting operations while also incorporating risk management into your daily routine. With so much more to learn, you’ll not only become more confident and assured in your work, but you’ll be a smarter, safer and more efficient operator, too.
3. Boost Your Business
Much like standing out from the PfCO crowd, having further accreditation can have a significant boost to your business standing. It gives a clear message that you’re serious about what you do and that you’re committed to delivering the best possible service – and the OFQUAL Level 5 course acts as a benchmark for quality that would-be clients will be looking for.
After all, anyone with a PfCO can claim to be an expert, but now you’ll have something to prove that you’re one step ahead – and with every single step you take to as part of your CPD, you’ll make your business a better and far more appealing prospect. As an added bonus a Level 5 accredited pilot, or company employing one, are eligible for a discount on your insurance policies!
4. Broaden Your Horizons
Most people take their first steps towards a PfCO because they have a specific use case or application in mind. Perhaps that’s as a keen aerial photographer looking to turn professional, or someone working in surveying or inspections who has seen how drones can make great savings in time and money, while also reducing risk to humans, and is keen to get their operations off the ground.
By continuing your professional development you’ll open yourself up to concepts and scenarios that might be outside of your usual day-to-day operations, which could give you that extra insight and inspiration to do far more than you are currently capable of. For example, it might give you the confidence to try 3D mapping, or to create and manage larger teams of operators that could expand your business and improve its efficiency in the field.
5. Unlock Fresh Potential
It’s not just about expanding your business on a linear level, either. As part of any CPD pathway, you might find new areas of interest that can transform your operations in a variety of ways.
As one example, the Level 5 course takes a look at the use of thermal cameras, which might not be of professional interest to many drone users but when you see the possibilities it might just trigger the spark that gives your company a brand new edge over its competitors.
Any company investing in an OFQUAL 5 course for one of their pilots will benefit from that pilot sharing their knowledge and expertise with the wider team.
6. Learn from Experts – and Each Other!
Our courses are delivered by some of the most experienced and talented unmanned aircraft instructors in the world, combining different areas of expertise to cover the breadth of the entire syllabus and give you the very best insights and instruction to help you grow and succeed. Not only that, but by studying alongside other aerial operators you’ll each be able to relate your studies to your own particular field and share those insights with the group. After the 5-day course you’ll have access to a closed Whatsapp and Facebook group for continual support amongst your peers.
This can provide a real eye-opener for how other drone operators or entire industries apply these theoretical factors into practical applications. Studying is one thing, but being able to discuss how different people and businesses actually operate out in the field can give a whole new perspective on your own operations and maybe some as-yet unlocked potential. Here from just a few of our OFQUAL 5 pilots on this blog.
7. Core Development: Ground School
One of the three core pillars of the course, our enhanced academic ground school takes you deeper into areas such as the principles of flight, aerodynamics and stability.
You’ll learn more about global meteorology and climatology (such as weather patterns and their effects on drones), while also gaining a better knowledge of airmanship, situational awareness, airspace management and the important human factors involved with aerial operations. Delivering a rich and detailed academic grounding, you’ll develop a greater understanding of staying safe in the air.
8. Core Development: Operations Management
This second pillar is designed to improve your ability to set up and manage a professional drone organisation, along with the systems and resources required to run it. It covers essential information for flight planning along with briefing and debriefing procedures, and the deployment of UAV operators.
We’ll take you through areas of risk management and incident response and maintaining your all-important flight logs and maintenance records. In short, our aim is to give you the knowledge and confidence to make the groundwork as simple and stress-free as the flying time!
9. Core Development: UAS Applications
The final core component will take you through some industry-specific commercial UAV applications and understanding how the various academic aspects of the course would apply to their operations.
Specifically, we’ll explore thermography, surveying and inspection applications, taking into account elements such as payloads, image acquisition and processing. We’ll also take you through the planning and processing techniques for 3D mapping, so you may well find yourself with an all-new skillset or business opportunities!
10. Establish a Clear CPD Pathway
As with all qualifications and accreditations, the OFQUAL Level 5 certificate is one further step on your Continued Professional Development – and where that next step leads is entirely up to you. It might be that you’re inspired to research and explore new fields, or adapt and expand your business in ways that you hadn’t previously considered.
If nothing else it should encourage you to keep learning and growing as an individual and/or a company, and become a better equipped aerial operator – and maybe be ready to take another big step forward when we launch our Level 6 course in the future!