The fast-evolving drone industry is set for stratospheric heights and Perth’s Global Drone Solutions is at the forefront of this fascinating profession.
Just a decade ago, drones used in anything except a military scenario were a rarity, which makes the fact that by 2030, the Australian drone industry alone will be worth a staggering $5.5billion.
Since 2015, Global Drone Solutions (GDS), based in Bentley, Perth has become a benchmark for training drone pilots – some 2,500 so far – and is accredited by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). Mahmood Hussein, founder and CEO of GDS, has witnessed the uptake of this very particular skillset across an ever-changing collection of industries. Having been an early adopter of this rapidly evolving technology, GDS is particularly well-placed to continue its dominance in the market, despite the often breakneck speed the technological changes posed to the company.
“Our company has followed a similar growth trajectory, which has been challenging at times, but well worth the effort,” says Mr Hussein.
The use of drones has now become as commonplace as traditional mapping technologies, and as demand increased for qualified remote drone pilots, GDS has risen to the challenge of providing individuals and businesses with fit-for-purpose drone-compliant training, certification and operations.
The advantages of employing drones above traditional surveillance techniques are manyfold but for most organisations the attraction is that they perform tasks more quickly and cheaply, obtain data in real time and are safer than virtually all other alternatives.
“Over the past few years, drones have become an integral part of daily operations in a broad range of industries including mining, infrastructure, oil and gas, government, construction and agriculture to name a few,” says Mr Hussein.
“The adoption of drone technology across various industries grew rapidly from the fad stage to the mega-trend stage as more and more businesses started to realise its potential.”
That potential had wide implications for businesses which required ‘eyes in the sky’ – and the data drones could feed back to pilots directly reduced costs and risk while at the same time improved operational efficiency and safety.
The 11-module Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) course including five hours of flight experience, offered by GDS gives would-be pilots the skillset to operate drones safely and professionally – and it’s not all about ‘skills on sticks’ as Mr Hussein puts it.
“There are other skills and attributes which are important. In addition to being competent flying drones, drone pilots need to be socially confident, disciplined, able to work with technology and have good hand-to-eye co-ordination.”
Knowing their way around a map and being able to work with 3D-models and digital twins is also an advantage as well as following company processes and procedures.
Since time is very often of the essence for companies which embrace drone technology, GDS offer the possibility for drone pilots to be trained in five days to obtain their RePL, with the option to enrol in numerous advanced courses which can be completed in full or half days.
“Once qualified with their RePL, we recommend drone pilots gain some experience in low-risk applications, before approaching the larger organisations for job opportunities,” says Mr Hussein.
If a company wishes to recruit an experienced drone pilot, GDS has access to an unprecedented network of certified drone pilots and instructors, effectively creating a new market of ‘on demand’ pilots to partner with clients, regardless of their location.
It’s this visionary approach to a new industry which earned Mr Hussein and GDS a prestigious acknowledgement – becoming a member of the INCITE Awards Tech Hall of Fame, raising the company’s profile considerably.
“It’s important both personally and for the business to be recognised by the industry and peers. Being inducted into the INCITE Awards Tech Hall of Fame means we must be doing something right!” says Mr Hussein.
“I want to help others find a career that gives them pleasure as well as an income, provides them with opportunities for growth and generally make a positive contribution to society. We have the same ethos for our business, and GDS’s large number of five-star Google reviews demonstrates that my personal objectives are also being delivered through the business.
For those considering joining this fascinating, and what is fast becoming an essential industry, Mr Hussein has valuable advice and insight.
“We have several options to obtain a Drone Pilot Licence as well as your Remote Aircraft Operators’ Certificate, otherwise known as a ReOC,” he says.
“Essentially, these are the tickets to the drone industry. To fast track the journey, we not only help a person obtain the required certification, but we also show them how to establish a drone business. We add value by taking the time to teach students how to setup a drone business and provide them with a suite of digital tools and resources to help them establish a successful business.”
GDS also works within large organisations to train staff to operate drones; Rio Tinto, BHP, Chevron and Woodside are just some of the marque companies who currently work with GDS to upskill their workforce and embed compliant drone operations in their business.
As the largest drone pilot training and consulting company in WA, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to pivot and offer online training and thus expand its footprint nationally.
“We have found that people in lockdown are embracing the opportunity to acquire new skills and qualifications to obtain their RePL and join our exciting drone industry,” says Mr Hussein.
It’s initiatives like this that will ensure GDS continues to grow from an innovative and successful local business to one with an interstate footprint that influences the drone industry nationally.