Turn your Military Experience into a Drone Career with your ELCAS training credit.
Anyone who’s been in or around the drone industry for some time and has met many of their fellow commercial operators may well have noticed a lot of those people will have a strong military background. We’re not just talking Royal Air Force pilots looking to scale down their operations in a somewhat smaller craft, but also Royal Navy and Army veterans taking the skills they’ve learned during their service and transforming them into a successful commercial aerial business.
“Many ex-servicemen will already have an organisational mindset that is perfectly tuned to the legal and moral framework of commercial drone operations”
We’ve seen ex-servicemen and women adapting to careers in the drone industry that sees them inspecting oil rigs, delivering data to construction sites, running surveillance and counter-drone operations, training the next generation of pilots and more. With this in mind, here at COPTRZ we’re proud and delighted to be the first drone training provider to be provided ELCAS Approved Learning Provider status, which means that we can deliver our acclaimed OFQUAL Level 4 and Level 5 courses to current or former members of the Armed Forces for a fraction of the price. So if you’ve got at least 6 years of service under your belt and are looking to kick-start a new career in the world of drones, then we’ve got the tools to help you succeed.
How Does It Work?
ELCAS is the military’s Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service. According to its own website (enhancedlearning.com) it “promotes lifelong learning amongst members of the armed forces.” This is delivered in the form of financial support for higher learning at a recognised level – such as our two OFQUAL courses. The scheme dates back to 01 April 2000 and is available to all registered serving or leaving personnel who have served for at least six years.
With six years’ service, you’re eligible for three payments up to £1,000, increasing to £2,000 if you’ve been in the forces for eight years and above. Each payment is known as a credit and successful applicants can use one of their three credits in a single year – making it ideal for those looking for a steady Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the fast-growing world of drones. With each ELCAS credit you can claim 80% of the course fees, up to your maximum level of £1,000 or £2,000 depending on your years of service. Check out this handy infographic which explains how ELCAS credits work for Drone Training.
An Aerial Evolution?
There are plenty of reasons why former servicemen have made the move into the drone industry – and why those currently serving might be considering it as a career ahead of their return to Civvy Street. There is the obvious link to the RAF, where pilots will always be pilots, and so many of those used to flying fighter jets or helicopters will find the switch to unmanned aircraft relatively straightforward. After all, whilst on a much smaller scale, the same principles of aviation, airmanship and conducting aerial operations still apply – and with a set of goggles and a first-person view camera, the real thrill of flying can remain a part of your everyday life.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of relevant expertise gained by all personnel from the armed forces that can translate to becoming a drone pilot. The key principles in terms of organisational structure, mission procedure and risk assessment also apply, with drone operations requiring similar pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight management that you might see with military operations, hence many ex-servicemen will already have an organisational mindset that is perfectly tuned to the legal and moral framework of commercial drone operations.
Let’s not forget that the military is also one of the leading users of cutting edge UAV technology – and not just the large, lethal drones you see making headlines, but also everything from the latest DJI models for inspection ops down to custom-made micro-drones for surveillance and so on. Whether it’s been hands-on flying or not, members of the Armed Forces will likely have encountered a lot of very similar hardware and assorted technologies – such as AI, LIDAR and thermal imaging to name just a few – to those we see used every day in the drone sector.
An Open Market
With plenty of crossover potential, a career in commercial drone operations can be a great fit for those who’ve served, and there’s never been a better time to get involved in this rapidly expanding industry. We’ve mentioned a few examples already but there’s a multitude of potential avenues to explore, whether as an extension of the skills and expertise acquired whilst in the Armed Forces, or as a transition into something new. With the right training from an approved training provider, to use an almost unavoidable pun, the sky really is the limit!
The likes of surveillance and inspection operations are an obvious sector for leaving personnel to investigate, your military experience can also lend itself nicely to counter-drone solutions. Likewise, implementing UAV technology into wider markets involving land, air or sea operations have seen many success stories, be it airports, ports and harbours or any of the many other industries where a smart aerial solution can help save time and money while also significantly reducing the risk to those on the ground.
We’ve seen skilled pilots of manned craft make the change to aerial photography and videography, both for creating amazing visuals, but also for uses such as surveying and 3D mapping. There are also a number of new businesses opportunities stemming from ex-servicemen looking to implement and adapt the technologies they mastered in the forces to the drone industry, be it battery/charging tech or bigger and better BVLOS operations (Beyond Visual Line Of Site).
However, you don’t necessarily need to be the one with your hands on the controller. As the demand for drone services increases in the broader business community, so the need for operations managers to handle large fleets of drones and their pilots will expand. This also feeds into other related areas such as risk assessment, site management and air safety systems – and, as mentioned, experience in conducting military operations will give you some great foundations in these fields.
What are the Courses?
We are currently offering two ELCAS approved courses, both under the banner of our accredited Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation status. The OFQUAL Level 4 course is for those relatively new to the drone world, delivering everything you need to apply for your Permission for Commercial Operations (PFCO) which, as the name suggests, is what is legally required to conduct commercial aerial operations in the UK.
The three-day course includes a detailed Ground School which covers eight key pillars to prepare you for your first aerial missions, from Airmanship and Aviation Safety through to Operating Procedures, including preparing your all-important Operations Manual which is your all-encompassing rulebook for every flight you make. We’ll also take you through the fundamental factors of Flight Planning before getting you up in the air for your final Flight Test. With ELCAS funding, the course is available for as little as £227 dependent on your time serving. Courses run every month, all year round and we deliver this in 11 locations around the UK. Find your nearest location here.
Bearing in mind that the Armed Forces have their own extensive UAV operations and so therefore a lot of ex-servicemen may have already trained for their PFCO, either in the military or as a first step to a new career after their service came to an end. For those who are already qualified, we offer a more detailed OFQUAL Level 5 course which is designed for chief pilots, those hands-off project leaders we touched on previously or any operator looking to improve upon their CPD and earning a recognised qualification that proves your aerial merit to any would-be client or customer.
Equivalent to a HND or the second year of a Batchelor’s degree, this academically-recognised qualification digs deeper into the topics covered by the Level 4 course and expands further into Operations Management, Operational Safety Case Planning and Human Factors and Airmanship. The course takes place over three days here at our Leeds Headquarters.
Your Future Starts Here
Combining the obvious financial benefits of the ELCAS system with our industry-recognised team of experts and aerial professionals, this is a brilliantly cost-effective way to kick-start a career in the drone industry. Tied into the courses you can also make the most of our remote learning resource to swot up before the first lesson begins, while access to our Starting a Drone Business Webinar can also provide some great insights into setting up and managing a successful aerial business.
Those currently serving or shortly leaving should be automatically enrolled for the ELCAS scheme, but anyone wanting to check their eligibility can check with their Education Officer – with further information available on the ELCAS website, or you can check our course profile HERE which has all of the links you need to check your status and download the relevant forms. It’s worth noting that it can take 25 working days for submitted forms to be processed, so make sure you plan ahead.
We’d be happy to talk to any ex-servicemen or women looking to begin a brand new chapter in their professional lives – whether you’re committed to a move into the drone industry or just intrigued by the many possibilities and would like to find out more about the options available to you. The drone world is a vast, exciting and intimidating place, and we’re here to help you build for a bright and successful future in this bold new frontier.
The commercial UAV marketplace is expanding rapidly, with the CAA estimating that “by 2025 there will be a need for 20,000 qualified pilots”, almost a threefold increase on those active today. To find out more how you can become involved in this expanding industry then you can download our ELCAS Training brochure below, visit our ELCAS Webpage and contact us today so we can help advise you on how to get started.
Or click here for more information about your ELCAS Credits and how they work: