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Kenya Airways sets up hub for training drone pilots

DRONEd

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

Kenya Airways has launched the country's first-ever drone cage to be used for training Unmanned Aerial Vehicle pilots.

Through its subsidiary, Fahari Aviation, the airline will use the facility for training and testing of drones and drone equipment.

Fahari Aviation said it is positioning itself to be at the forefront of exploring advanced future technologies in aviation and at the same time promoting safe and secure usage of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in Kenya.

Fahari Aviation is tasked with launching and implementing future aviation technologies and is part of the airline’s strategy of contributing to the sustainable development of Africa by championing new dimensions within the industry with the use of drones and unmanned aircraft.

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To provide resources to learn and practice techniques and skills required for safe operations of drones, Fahari Aviation has in addition launched the Fahari Drone Club, a community for UAS enthusiasts, offering members a platform to connect and share best practices.

“Enabling an environment that will accelerate innovation, knowledge exchange and fast track the use of unmanned aircraft within the country and beyond is critical in exploring the drone phenomenon as we seek to innovatively find solutions that address some of our societal problems and pain points,” said Hawkins Musili, General Manager of Fahari Aviation.

The drone cage, Mr Musili said, will provide a safe environment for practice and training while the drone club will provide a platform for the drone enthusiasts to grow the UAS industry in Kenya and the region.

KQ director Michael Gichangi said they have over the years proved to be a leader in aviation innovation and that this openness to innovation led to the establishment of Fahari Aviation and the first drone enclosure facility in Nairobi.

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“The future of aviation is based on identifying opportunities for innovation and diversification to build a resilient business that is committed to the sustainable development of Africa,” said Mr Gichangi.

He said through the drone cage, they hope to see enhanced innovation, research, and development of UAS technology in communities through interactive work across partners, corporates, universities, industries, and individuals.

KQ’s venture into drones is part of its strategy to diversify its business and reduce reliance on passenger travel. The carrier has for long been relying on passengers as the main source of revenue.

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Currently, passengers contribute over 85 percent of the airline’s revenue with cargo accounting for about 10 percent.

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