Agoria Chairman Marc Lambotte is merciless when he talks about the dronepilot examinations. He advocates a more realistic exam based less on the knowledge of aircraft pilots.
Lambotte is currently training to be a drone pilot. He welcomes the fact that there is a legal framework and a practical and theoretical exam. But he hates the way in which this is happening today. “I learned a lot of things that will be especially useful, next time I enter a quiz.”
The examinations are mainly based on the pilot’s technical knowledge. One of the questions is: What does the air pressure do at sea level at 18,000 feet?” But you are not allowed to fly more than 300 feet with a drone. And so, 90 percent of the meteorology part of the exam (one of four parts of the exam) is useless.”
“We still have a lot of work to adjust the current legislation, which is based on aviation. Today, we need more focus on economic opportunities, rather than technical prowess.” He compares it with someone who needs to know all the internal operation of a computer and then only works in Excel.
The chairman of the technology federation made the statements during an event of Agoria and ADM in Droneport, Belgium. The hub at Sint-Truiden’s airport wants to become the center for the Belgian drones sector in the coming years. He advocates training and examinations that better match the conditions in which drones are used in Belgium and Europe.
225 euro per request
“There are undoubtedly important things to know for the pilot who brings us to a vacation destination, but they are totally useless for pilots flying drones.” If you want to inspect a solar panel witha drone at 8m altitude, you’re in Brussels airspace and you have to fill out a lot of paperwork and pay 225 euro. That’s called economic congestion, and it pushes pilots to work illegally.”
Today, professional dronepilots must indicate their flights in advance. Each request (again: 255 euros) can contain multiple flights on different dates. But in that way you pay a lot when you have late scheduled flights, even if that flight does not go higher than a few meters, and even when it stays clear of regular aviation.
Not like e-commerce
Today there are 380 professional dronepilots in our country. But if the exam doesn’t match the practice, Lambotte says that many professional pilots will continue flying illegally. But he also fears that companies in the relatively young sector will be pushed out of the market by the neighboring countries should it takes years to get better legislation.
“Let’s not make the same mistake as we did with e-commerce. Today ; our legislation allows for night-time lan-bour. But now all distribution centers are just across the border in the Netherlands or in Germany.”
DronePort construction starts after the summer
After the summer, the construction of Droneport will start in Sint-Truiden. The incubator for starting companies must be the hub for everything revolving around drones in our country. In just a few years, all the licenses for the site have been completed. Drones can (test-)fly in specially defined zones. This site is unique in Belgium, and many drones have already found the way to Sint-Truiden.
video in Dutch