Zim drone academy gets greenlight for BVLOS training

Seems like the first drone training school to legally open its doors in Zimbabwe has broken new ground again.

Harare-based Drone Solutions Academy (DSA), the first school in Zimbabwe to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to offer drone pilot skills training has just announced that it will be offering training for longer range drone flights; after it acquired certification for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS flights recently.

The training academy will be the first in the country to offer such services.

In a statement, DSA said effective July 25 this year, it was awarded two new licence ratings to train prospective pilots on honing their BVLOS skills – one for an expanded Remote Pilot Licence (RPL) and another for BVLOS training. 

“As far as training on the Remote Pilot Licence (RPL) is concerned, the ratings have enabled the academy to extend its portfolio to offer both multirotor and fixed wing training,” the company said. “The BVLOS training authorises trained pilots to fly beyond the restricted distances, thereby opening vast opportunities for the industry.”

Drone flights beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight are commonly associated with cargo drones, which obviously have to travel distances greater than the roughly 500metres required for visual line of sight drones. Such delivery drones are now a common sight in countries like Botswana, DR Congo, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Rwanda, where they are delivering emergency medical supplies like blood and vaccines to remote communities.

With medical drone services also having been launched in other southern African countries that include South Africa and Namibia, Zimbabwe will be one of the last countries in the region to drink the Kool Aid and adopt drone technologies for its medical logistics.

Further afield, companies like Wing and Amazon are offering their cargo drone for grocery and package delivery in the US, while the UK’s Royal Mail has embarked on a large-scale operation to deliver mail using drones.

In Souther Africa, however, training schools for BVLOS flights are few, and the addition of DSA to the catalogue should be good news for all aspiring pilots in the region.

‘’We are excited that people can now enroll for BVLOS training at DSA,” said Jeremiah Musabayana, DSA founder and Accountable Manager. “The CAAZ requirement is that one must be a valid holder of a Remote Pilot License (RPL) before they can train for BVLOS. To incentivise the market, we are offering those who enroll to train for the RPL with us, a 30 percent discount when they enroll for BVLOS training.’’

Musabayana added that BVLOS flights will also allow companies and individuals to legally carry out critical services such as long-distance surveillance at border posts and mines as well as delivery of medical packages and other goods to trapped survivors during disasters.

“It is expected that the adoption of long endurance fixed wing drones will rapidly increase due to the new remote (BVLOS) training accreditation.”

The company said it is now taking in applications, with classes expected to start on August 15 for multirotor RPL, and on August 29 for BVLOS training respectively. For the RPL (Aeroplane) training, classes are scheduled to start on September 5 this year


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