Kenya’s first drone academy on the way

KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe. file PHOTO | NMG

Kenya is on course to have its first drone academy after the civil aviation authority said it would approve the application for school licence by logistics firm Astral Aviation.

This is the first application since last year’s gazettement of regulations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

Kenya has no drone pilot, neither does it have a training institution for UAV operators. If approved, Kenya will become the second country on the continent after South Africa to have such training.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the sector regulator, has confirmed receiving Astral’s application; it is being reviewed.

“We have received their application and it is in the reviewing process. We will definitely approve it because we need more of drone training schools to create local capacity,” said KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe.

Astral chief executive officer Sanjeev Gadhia says they have identified Lukenya and Limuru as possible school sites “as they are far from an airport, which is one of the conditions set by the regulator.”

Astral is working on how to get instructors from South Africa, the CEO said.

“We have been in touch with the instructors from South Africa and are ready to bring them in for training of our local drone pilots once we get approval from KCAA,” he said.

In the initial days, the academy will use the South African curriculum before the local one is developed, he said, adding that the International Civil Aviation Organisation plans a standard curriculum.

Astral’s course will have commercial training, basic and advanced piloting.

It has set the commercial training fees at Sh30,900 ($300), basic training for drone pilots will be between Sh250,000 and Sh500,000 while advanced course will cost Sh500,000 and above.

“The cost will eventually come down after we have trained our local instructors,” said Mr Gadhia.

Drones are used for photography, transportation of light cargo and traffic management.

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