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Currently, there are three main sources of training on unmanned aircraft systems, or drones: manufacturers, flight schools and universities.
“Everything's great when it's a sunny day and the engine's purring along. But as soon as you have a failure, that's when training is really important and really comes into play,” said James Van Meter, Atlanta-based aviation practice leader at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty S.E. and a founding member of the UAS Insurance Association.
“It's especially important to be trained on what actions to take when something goes wrong and knowing the procedures for minimizing 'fly-aways.' It's this training that will help minimize the risk of injuring someone or damaging property,” he said. “These aircraft are sophisticated. They all have geo-fencing, where you can't use the aircraft if in a restricted area, such as closer than 5 miles to an airport. This technology can also keep the (unmanned aerial vehicle) from going above 400 feet,” the limit imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Aside from training offered by manufacturers, Boston-based Dartdrones Flight Academy is an example of a traditional flight school that offers drone training across the U.S.
Universities such as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks also have degree programs focused on piloting and engineering unmanned aircraft operations.
“A lot of these graduates are shaping this growing industry,” Mr. Van Meter said.
Drone sales that could top 1 million this holiday season have lawyers warming up for a wave of claims, with differing views on the insurance industry's readiness for the risks that commercial and consumer drone operators will bring.