Reading, writing and drone flying

| January 30, 2020

Once seen only as children’s toys, the use of increasingly sophisticated drones is becoming commonplace across a range of industries and there is a growing need for workers with the skills required to pilot them effectively.

One drone company, Global Drone Solutions, has an affiliation with 20 schools across Western Australia and its CEO Mahmood Hussein says they’re looking to expand into the eastern states over the next few years.

“The program we run in schools has been a work in progress over the past 18 months, but the feedback has been very positive from parents, teachers and students alike,” Mr Hussein said.

“What may have seemed like a crazy idea to some people a couple of years ago is now very realistic when it comes to students wanting to pursue a career in piloting drones on a full-time basis.”

“We’re constantly in discussions with education authorities around the country about providing teachers with the necessary skills to conduct these classes as part of the school curriculum.”

“We are introducing jobs of the future to school aged children who can already see the potential uses and who will grow up with drones as being part of their lives.”

Industrial and Service Applications

Mahmood Hussein says drones have already found a useful niche in a wide range of services and industries to gather information, reduce costs and keep human observers out of danger.

Drones are used by the emergency services to fly over areas ravaged by cyclones, fires, earthquakes and floods to assess damage and even deliver emergency supplies, while surf lifesaving clubs across the country use drones to monitor shark activity and assist with rescue operations.

Mining and agriculture remain staples of the Australian economy, and inexpensive drones can now deliver real-time aerial surveillance of large tracts of land to replace costly and occasional surveys by conventional light aircraft.

Mining companies use drones to measure stockpiles of minerals in hours, rather than days, as well as survey new sites or assess environmental impacts.  Drones are increasingly used in agriculture to monitor crops or stock, and can be fitted with special sensors to track water use, crop health, heat signatures, and changes in the soil on a regular basis.

Utility companies use drones to check power lines, and they have many applications on construction sites to monitor progress and maintain safety.  Retailers and distributors use them indoors in large warehouses to check inventory more efficiently, while major companies like Amazon are exploring the development of drones for delivery.

Drones are also employed in the tourism and hospitality industries, with hotels, resorts and tour operators using drone footage and photography as part of their marketing campaigns, Real estate agents now use drones to take panoramic aerial footage of properties to show investors new opportunities or create marketing videos.

Tradesman increasingly use drones to inspect buildings and installations such as leaking roofs, blocked guttering or misaligned solar panels, while on a more domestic scale, drones are commonly employed to create panoramic videos to complement traditional posed photography, allowing couples to capture diverse and creative footage of their special day.

Giving Students Their Wings

Mr Hussein underlines the need for students to gain the skills required to pilot these drones to secure employment in the future.

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“As the number of jobs and applications for drones increases, we want to ensure that Australian kids are ready to take on this industry.”

“It’s exciting, innovative, interesting and something that kids can learn and apply in real time.”

“In addition to the actual flying of the drones, some schools are already doing coding classes for drone applications as part of the curriculum.”

“There’ll be lots of budding entrepreneurs out there whose eyes will light up when they see just what can be done with drones.”

“There’s a lot of cowboys out there trying to make a quick buck by operating drones without the necessary level of qualifications.”

“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has very strict rules when it comes to operating drones, so unless you want to be substantially out of pocket, you need the proper training.”

Mahmood Hussein’s firm Global Drone Solutions is one of a handful of CASA approved drone pilot training schools across the country. A CASA certified drone pilot himself, Mr Hussein is using his experience in executive positions with national and multinational mining, automotive, advanced manufacturing and distribution firms to develop more applications for drone technologies.

“As a young boy born in Pakistan, never in my wildest dreams did I think I could my make a living out of teaching people to safely control a flying object.”

As he says, “The sky is literally the limit.”

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