So this week I've completed the ICARUS Course (International Certificate of Approval for Remote Unmanned Systems) at Aerial Motion Pictures, Wallingford. Following the obligatory delegate introductions, the first day was mostly getting to grips with, and understanding Air Law. Using the Air Navigation Order (Civil Aviation Publication 393) as a basis paying particular attention to Articles 166 and 167 the delegates were taken through the rules. It was important for all delegates to understand this and during the rest of the course we kept coming back to it, a lot. I privately questioned why this 'section' was first, and not at the end, just before the exam but it has become clear to me, since the course, why it wasn't. It's so important to understand. If you don't you can find yourself in deep water pretty quickly. As the industry takes off, pun intended, the Police will be doing the prosecuting. At the same time the general public are becoming more aware of the rules themselves, and who are they going to call?? Not the Ghostbusters..that's for sure!
The rest of day one was more straightforward, for me anyway. Having spent a few years in the Air Training Corps when I was younger Principals of Flight and Meteorology came easily and then we went onto Operating Procedures. It was this that has help me greatly to nearly complete my Operations Manual, so I paid lots of attention to these sections and found them really useful.
Day Two covered Human Factors, Airmanship, Navigation, Flight Planning and concluded with the sobering sections on Lithium Polymer batteries and their dangers and the very frightening section on the UK Low Flying System. I had no idea that in most areas of the UK military jets can speed along at very low levels. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to imagine the carnage that could be caused by a negligent drone operator. For sure, if you're tonking along at 150 feet and 5 miles a minute you're not going to spot a small drone, never mind avoid it.
On the drive in on Day Three I was really, really questioning my motivation. It appeared that pretty much everything I had plans to do would now be very difficult, if not impossible. The exam was a couple of hours away and I still felt I had not fully understood the rules. It seemed that everytime I read them I interpreted them differently. So after taking a quick blast through everything with the instructor it was exam time. 50 Questions, 1 Hour, 80% to pass.
In the end there was nothing to worry about and the exam was pretty straight forward. There were a couple of questions that made me think but I err'd on the side of caution with them and plumped for the correct answer in the end. Exam Passed, Air Law ingrained in the grey matter and making the final adjustments to the Operations Manual sees me in healthy position to take on the next stage in getting my Pfaw (Permission for Aerial Work) from the CAA. Enthusiasm restored, onwards and upwards.
More on the preparations for my Operational Evaluation next week.