Drone Essentials is offered by TAFE NSW's Riverina Institute. The course is made up of a classroom unit, which covers theory, and a field unit, which takes students outside for some practical flying time followed by an exam. Passing the exam means the student is awarded a certificate of competency.
Thomas Carberry, project officer for farming systems, said that drones have been becoming increasingly popular with agronomists and farmers. Drones are being used to monitor crops and livestock through infrared imaging. "From that they can identify plant health and save on fertilizer use if they can identify specific areas that they need to fertilise," he said. "Sometimes they can save up to 30 per cent on fertiliser use just from getting that image, and can get a greater yield from it."
Teacher and certified drone pilot, Nicholas Wilke, said he hopes the course will appeal to both professionals and hobbyists. "We teach people how to set up a drone and how to safely operate a drone," he said. "All the software associated with a particular model is covered and then we test them."
New drone flying laws by the Civil Aviation Authority will be coming into effect in September, allowing people to operate drones that weigh less than two kilograms without a licence. Mr Wilke said he hopes the course will educate people about the new regulations and what they mean for drone enthusiasts.