The UK’s first training course for industrial drone operators has been launched in Aberdeen by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB).
The ECITB-approved Industrial Drone Operations Training Course was developed by Aberdeen-based Texo Compliance to ensure that the next generation of drone operators attain and develop the skills and knowledge they need to operate safely in heavy industrial environments that have specific operational hazards and constraints.
It will set the standard for industrial operations, not only in the oil and gas industry, but for a wide variety of sectors including petrochemicals, nuclear, renewables, rail, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and food.
The development of the new course – the first of which is scheduled for September 30 to October 4 – follows the launch last year of ECITB’s Industrial Drone Operations Training and Assessment Programme, again the first in the UK.
The past 10 years has seen increased use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in the industrial environment and, as more and more industry sectors see the advantage of reducing risk, time-saving and reduction of cost in areas such as infrastructure inspection, their use has quadrupled in the last two years.
Following identification of the need for a national standard, industry employers approached the ECITB with a view to developing a competence model that would look to not only train and assure the competence of individual UAV operators, but also require them to validate ongoing competence over a rolling period.
The Industrial Drone Operations Training Course, which will be delivered by Aberdeen-based Texo Compliance, is available to anyone who has passed the CAA permission for commercial operations (PfCO) scheme and can meet the course pre-requisites. It has four stages including off-the-job training at an ECITB-approved centre; this is consolidated through drone operations on a live industrial site with 30 logged flying hours required within three to 12 months of initial training.
The third stage comprises formal technical testing at an ECITB-approved centre using the ECITB technical testing platform, while the final stage is renewal of the ECITB technical test certificate at 36 months through formal re-assessment. If the candidate can demonstrate sufficient experience, they can go straight to the formal technical assessment without the need for initial stage one off the job training.
ECITB Chief Executive Chris Claydon said that the course reflected a drive to prepare for new and emerging technologies that are set to revolutionise the engineering industry.
“ECITB plays a key role in developing industry-led standards and qualifications to meet the needs of the workplace and enable our industry to compete globally. This new course is a great example of how we have collaborated with industry to create a product where there is a clear and growing market need. We have listened to employers and, at their request, developed training that meets what is an increasingly important skills requirement for them and their clients,” he said.
“Drones are increasingly common across engineering construction sites from monitoring and surveying to checking wear and tear on installations, such as offshore rigs and wind turbines. The ECITB has responded to this major shift in working practices by created this new training standard to ensure that drones are used safely and competently in what can be hazardous and challenging environments,” Chris Claydon added.
“We very much welcome Texo Compliance as our first approved training provider and look forward to getting the courses underway and training the next generation of drone pilots.”
Texo Compliance Operations Director Jamie Murphy said the firm was delighted to be the first approved ECITB training provider in the UK for the delivery of the Industrial Drones Operations Training Course.
“We believe that we are at the forefront of innovation and technology-driven training in what is a complex and technically demanding industry often operating in difficult and austere environments,” he said.
“Working in the UK and internationally with UAV operations, we see drones mitigating risks from work that would traditionally be done by a variety of personnel particularly at height and this now removes the human element from operations that were deemed high risk, high potential.
“Gaining this ECITB award first in the UK underpins our commitment to being a technology-led and driven organisation.”