Flying Labs: “The Power of Local” for Drone Technology

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image courtesy African Drone Forum

In Africa, locally-based drone trainers and professional operators at the Flying Labs are working to emphasize the power of drone technologies for local communities – by training both local students and government officials.

The Flying Labs global network of local knowledge hubs is part of WeRobotics.org, a humanitarian organization contributing to solving world problems by developing local drone expertise. (“The Power of Local” is their tagline.)  In Rwanda this month Leka Tingitana, Managing Director of Tanzania Flying Labs, and Tiamiyou RADJI, Director of Senegal Flying Labs, are working to share their expertise with a new group of drone experts: and helping to create the right ecosystem for their future businesses.

At an African Drone Forum pre-conference event February 4, aviation regulators from all over Africa traveled to the Karongi Integrated Polytechnic Regional College (IPRC) to see a drone training event first hand – and to gain an understanding of what’s involved in developing drone regulations that support both safety and innovation.  15 students from IPRC were chosen to participate on a one week intensive training with Tingitana and RADJI (known as Tiam).  “The point of the training is not just to learn how to fly a drone, but to learn how drones can help your communities,” said Tingitana.  Flying Labs utilize the U.K standards for certification, allowing students who receive the certification in some African countries, like Tanzania, to apply for a license to operate commercially.

image courtesy African Drone Forum

At the February 4 event, two regulators were given the opportunity to experience flying a drone with the trainers – witnessing first hand how training, procedures and regulations can enable safe operations.  The Flying Labs also work with government agencies to train regulators and personnel on drone operations.  “The idea is for regulators to start thinking about what needs to be included in regulations,” says Tian.

That drone technology can be incredibly valuable to communities is clear – but the ecosystem must be developed.  “I want to reiterate ‘the power of local,’” said Tingitana. “We need enough locally trained drone pilots and enough data analysts to innovate – and you need a conducive regulatory environment to do that.”

 

 



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