KQ drone licence to cost pilots Sh180,000


Geoffrey Nyaga, head of operations at Astral Aerial Solutions flies a spraying drone over a farm in Narok on February 10, 2021. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Aspiring drone pilots seeking to train with Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will part with Sh180,000 for a month course to obtain a Remote Pilot License (RPL) as the national carrier moves to diversify its revenue stream in the wake of low demand for passengers.

KQ through its Fahari subsidiary, has opened training course for those interested in operating drones but do not have licences, which is a prerequisite by the civil aviation agency.

KQ’s technical director Evans Kihara in a response to Business Daily queries said the charges will exclude the cost of obtaining a Class 3 aviation medical exam which costs about Sh10,000.

“We have an introductory price of Sh180,000 for a Remote Pilot License (RPL) training course. The raining will take four weeks and will comprise theory and practical sessions,” said Mr Kihara yesterday.

The carrier has for a long time been relying on passengers as the main source of revenue but it is now looking at new areas of investment with an eye on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Currently, passenger contributes over 85 percent of the airline’s revenue with cargo accounting for about 10 percent. Mr Kihara said that trainees must be 18 years of age, be proficient in the English language and have completed an Aviation Class 3 medical exam.

The announcement comes barely a few months after the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) legalised the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the country, triggering what is shaping up to be a commercial drone delivery race.

A number of firms have announced their drone operations in Kenya among them Astral Aviation, which is targeting the use of the UAVs in traffic management, training of drone pilots and mapping activities.

Others are Adriana and Drone Space, which have been licensed by KCAA.

Drone firms in the country are targeting to use these UAVs for photography, traffic management and mapping, especially on agricultural farms.

KCAA operationalised the new rules after they were approved by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Transport James Macharia under legal Notice No.4 of 2021 on 22 January 2021.

The approval of the regulations paved the way for full implementation of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems regulatory framework in Kenya.

Kenya Airways (KQ) has also partnered with a United Kingdom-based logistics firm to offer drone services as it seeks to diversify its income source and cut reliance on passenger travel, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national carrier inked a memorandum of understanding with Skyports to collaborate on launching drone operations in the country.