Astral Aerial Solutions, winners of the 2017 International Air Transport Association (IATA) Air Cargo Innovation Award will be offering Kenya’s first drone training program. The IATA Award was a first for Africa and Astral Aerial Solutions received it for their Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) concept for Africa.
Astral Aerial Solutions was founded in 2016 and is a subsidiary of Astral Aviation, a cargo airline. The company will be offering drone pilot training in order to drive innovation and growth in the aviation industry. Drones are gaining recognition as an innovative part of the aviation sector and Astral Aerial Solutions wants Kenya to be at the centre of this innovation.
Currently, most drone pilots receive their training from South Africa or United States of America with the South African program being of superior quality. Astral Aerial Solutions will commence their training program with the curriculum and instructors from South Africa. The curriculum will then be adapted to the Kenyan context and Kenyan instructors will be trained. Given its strategic geographical location, this will place Kenya at a prime position to offer training for the Eastern and West African regions as well as to interested parties in the Middle East.
The levels of training that will be on offer are Basic Training, Commercial Training and Instructor Training. The Basic Training Course offers a simplified instruction to enable one to operate a drone safely for recreational use. This training takes about one day. Commercial Training is more advanced training that gives one the ability to be employed and compensated for their services. Specialized Training will also be offered for industries such as agriculture, mining, energy and utilities, BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) and more. Instructor training enables one to operate a drone professionally and train others in their operation.
Astral Aerial Solutions drone training program is aimed at providing employment opportunities for the Kenyan youth. They will have a chance to be employed in this emerging arm of the aviation industry. Other entrepreneurs, such as photographers and film makers can also grow their business using drone technology. Drones can be a value addition to many types of businesses due to their varied applications.
Astral Aerial Solution sees enormous potential in the use of drone technology for the benefit of the country’s economy. To fully take advantage of this innovation, proper training in drone operation needs to be available. The company stresses that in order to safeguard this industry, everyone involved needs to follow the proper regulations as set down by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). Illegal drone operators face a fine of Ksh 2 million or 6 month imprisonment or both. So, whether you are a recreational drone user or plan to be a commercial drone operator, you need to get the proper training and follow the regulations to the letter. This will be the only way to ensure proper growth of the industry and avoid future problems.
Astral Aerial Solutions is ready to begin training as soon as they receive approval from KCAA. They have identified Lukenya and Limuru as possible training sites as they are far from any airport while still being close enough to the city to make it convenient for those interested in the training. Their initial prices will be about $300 for basic training and $2500 for the commercial class. These prices are set to come down with time as training picks up and after local instructors are trained.
A lesson that can be learned from Astral Aerial Solution’s story is that as an entrepreneur, one should seek innovations in whatever business you are pursuing and try to make a global mark in your corner of the business world; innovation equals growth. Additionally, don’t forget to follow the rules.