Sunday, September 05, 2021

Will open drone pilots training schools across India with IGRUA: Drone Destination's Chirag Sharma

New Delhi: After training over 1,500 commercial aircraft pilots since 1986, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA) has now entered the field of training drone pilots also. It has tied up with a leading private sector player, Drone Destination, for setting up remote aircraft system pilot training schools across India. The two together started their first training centre in Gurgaon's Manesar earlier this year and the second one was inaugurated by aviation secretary P S Kharola in Bengaluru on Sunday.

IGRUA director Krishnendu Gupta told TOI the academy is now diversifying beyond training commercial aircraft pilots to other areas in a bid to generate funds and become self-sufficient. "We issued an expression of interest to tie up for drone pilot training institutes.

Drone Destination, which also manufactures drones, was chosen as they are experts in this field as we are in ours. We will open many more centres jointly in other cities, like Kolkata and Pune," Gupta said. The other area IGRUA has got into is English proficiency courses for pilots and it will soon have a wing to train aircraft maintenance engineers.

Drone Destination CEO Chirag Sharma said more drone pilot training schools will come up in places like Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Kolkata and Pune. "A large number of government programmes will be implemented using drones. The 'Swamitva' scheme -- where people in villages will be given title to their lands after mapping by drones -- will alone absorb 55,000 pilots. Using drones in agriculture for a land survey to determine soil health and pesticide spray will absorb an equal number. And these are just two examples," Sharma said.

IGRUA's Gupta said a drone school can train about 300 pilots annually. "The cost for multi-rotor drone training is Rs 55,000 (plus taxes) and the course is of six-day duration. Training for the bigger fixed-wing drones and hybrid drones (vertical take-off and landing) can cost up to Rs 1.25 lakh," he said.

IGRUA is getting offers from several places for training drone pilots. "The Survey of India wants trained drone pilots for mapping purposes. The Federation of Indian Pilots also wants to give its members this training," he said.

05/09/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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