Will work for food

The commercial drone operating industry in South Africa is completely unsustainable.

Schools are churning pilots out at a prestigious rate, which in some ways is a good thing.

Trouble is, there is nowhere for them to work.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority has only licenced eight companies since licencing came into force (Just over a year). You cannot fly commercially with just a remote pilots licence (RPL). You need to be employed by or hold an RPAS Operator Certificate.

If the number mentioned in the image can be believed one training operator has passed 161 pilots, that’s twenty and a pinkie pilots for each ROC holder.  This is the output of one company, there are others. Let us suggest between them they have matched this number. In total 320 licenced pilots or forty for each ROC.

All this will do is drive RPL pay down. There are thirty-nine folks stood in the line behind you for this job alone so you can’t be fussy.

Yes, more companies will come online but the SACAA will come under pressure to fall in step with countries offering a more relaxed approach to licencing.

I never thought I would write this, but in the USA they have more relaxed rules.

A person only needs to pass a simple written test, Part 107, and is then able to operate. There are very few restrictions and a waiver system to get around some snags. What is the effect of light touch regulations? Well, 5124 licences in the first 15 days. All with no requirement to get an ROC for the company.

Spin the globe to Australia, in September new laws came into place that allows operation of craft below 2kg with really just a notification to CASA. If you own the land you are flying over then the weight steps up to 25kg. Manned aviation tried to put a spanner in the works but that effort failed.

The UK was going to get light touch sub 4kg but Brexit put the kybosh on that.

If the drone industry in South Africa is to properly take off the SACAA needs to look at the rest of the world or get out of the way.

Those selling a promise to people entering the industry need, to be honest about their prospects.