The job market landscape is changing fast with the emergence of drones as these unmanned aerial vehicles have already opened up new career avenues in different sectors. Going for Drone Technology can be a handy career choice for young people as India is likely to see a high demand for drone operators in the next few years.
The global drone market will be worth $28.47 billion this year, with India accounting for approximately 4.25% of that total.
Speaking to Edugraph, Pranav Kumar Chitte, the owner of PBC's Aero Hub and the aviation consultant for the Pune Municipal Corporation, said, “This industry is predicted to reach $1.8 billion by 2022. Social distancing rules during the pandemic have actually paved the way for the use of Drone Technology.”
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has classified drones based on their weight, design and range.
Growing opportunities in traditional sectors
The agriculture sector has become drone-driven as both industrial farms and agritech startups have started utilising this technology. Drones are now being used for agricultural activities like the application of pesticides and the monitoring of crop health.
“Drones will take over nearly 80% of the agriculture markets in the next couple of years,” said Chitte.
Drones are also being used widely in the real estate sector for aerial surveys and 3D modelling. Apart from that, the use of drones has become prevalent in environmental conservation, wildlife monitoring, law enforcement, geographic mapping, archaeological surveys, weather forecasting, air traffic management, sports tourism and entertainment.
“Many companies in India are currently working on drone technology in these sectors. Military application of drones is another area that’s being explored seriously all over the globe. Organisations such as IdeaForge and Asteria work on this specific aspect,” added Chitte.
Widespread application in emerging sectors
Drone technology is playing a massive part in the mapping sector under projects like Atmanirbhar Bharat and Svanidhi Yojana, both flagship projects undertaken by the Central government. Dropping of food packets, drinking water pouches and medicines with the help of drones in disaster-hit areas has become standard practice.
Drone operators are launching startups to utilise the growing opportunity for drones. Some of these companies actively work with agritechs and other companies to make handsome profits from their expertise in drone technology.
“If you look forward to joining the drone industry in India, you can join various startups as a drone operator or technical engineer. You may also choose to become an entrepreneur,” said Chitte.
How to go for drone education courses
Drone manufacturing and maintenance has become a growing industry and many drone companies like Throttle Aerospace, Skylark drones, Edall systems and others have opened up job opportunities for design engineers, mechanical engineers and aeronautical engineers.
“You can join the industry in different roles like drone pilot, drone engineer, drone instructor, R&D engineer, analyst, IT support, on-field support, assembly engineer and back-office support,” said Chitte.
Apart from pilot training courses, there are courses like mapping and inspection that elaborate on how to inspect and detect problems in chimneys and windmills while using thermal cameras.
“The most popular courses teach people how to operate drones. These courses are taught by drone training schools approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Other than that, technical universities in association with private organisations offer courses on the design and development of unmanned aerial vehicles,” said Smit Shah, director, Partnerships — Drone Federation of India.
Courses on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design introduce the designing and sizing process in simulated conditions, stability analysis and prototype testing for UAV technology. Added knowledge of electronics is always a big plus in this domain. Anyone from any background can pursue a course on UAV design.
How to become a drone pilot in India
With companies like Swiggy testing drone delivery of food and medicines by partnering with startups such as ANRA Technologies and Skye AirMobility, it appears that the Indian tech industry is seriously considering drones for business mobility.
“There are many job opportunities in the drone ecosystem, ranging from jobs involved in the design and assembly of drones to their maintenance and training. But the largest opportunity in this industry comes with becoming a drone pilot,” said Shah.
If you want to become a drone pilot, you need to get your training from a training centre approved by DGCA. To obtain your “Pilot Identification Number" and “Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit”, you need proper documentation and then should register as a remote pilot.
“Most things are explained by the training organisations in drone maintenance courses. For more detailed training, there is a small course that covers topics ranging from drone assembling to the programming part. The duration of this course is eight to 10 days,” said Chitte.
Eligibility criteria for being a drone pilot
You need to be over the age of 18 and should pass your Class X board exams with English as a subject. You also need a Class II or Class I medical certification. According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA, every pilot needs their own flying licence and should be trained at a DGCA-approved drone training school.
Most drone training programmes are less than two weeks long. To get trained, you do not need to own a drone. The training institutes provide all necessary training kits, including the drone. The pilot training courses at a DGCA-approved training institute cost between Rs 65,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
The list of DGCA approved drone pilot training institutes in India
- Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Akademi, Uttar Pradesh
- Flytech Aviation Academy, Secunderabad
- Redbird Flight Training Academy Pvt. Ltd, Baramati
- Alchemist Aviation Pvt. Ltd, Jamshedpur
- The Bombay Flying Club, Mumbai
- Ambitions Flying Club Pvt. Ltd, Aligarh
- Pioneer Flying Academy Pvt. Ltd, Aligarh
- Telangana State Aviation Academy, Hyderabad