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World-first qualification in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) in Aviation Training Package update

The development of a new qualification – Certificate IV in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) – by the Aviation Industry Reference Committee (IRC), supported by AIS and approved by the AISC, is believed to be a world-first.

The qualification provides people working in various industries as remote pilots with a pathway to operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or drones, on missions or in situations where the drone is operated beyond the visual line of sight or extended line of sight of the operator.

The rapid expansion of activities involving Remote Pilot Aircraft Systems (RPAS) both in Australia and internationally makes the development of vocational skills to safely operate and control RPAS within a broad range of operating environments a priority for the industry.

By utilising RPAS, companies can achieve a significantly safer workplace environment by eliminating the human element in the inspection process.  Additionally, they can enable reduction of operational costs (e.g. eliminating manned helicopter flights, quicker time to deployment) and increase efficiencies by covering wider geographical locations and collecting higher definition and quality of data in quicker turnaround times.

The development of the BVLOS qualification was part of a major review of the Aviation Training Package to meet aviation enterprise needs and reflect current occupational and vocational outcomes and work practices.

This included the review and update of Flight Operations and Ground Operations, Rescue Crew Officer and Cargo Services qualifications.

To align with Aviation industry regulatory requirements and changes to operational and job functions, a total of 15 qualifications, three Skill Sets and 199 Units of Competency were reviewed and updated, and 27 new Units of Competency created.

Aviation IRC Chair and CEO of Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters (Sydney and Southern NSW), Stephen Leahy, said “the Training Package is in line with licencing requirements and industry needs, whilst also recognising the increasing community and commercial use of drones and rapid advancements in technology.”

“The IRC worked closely with a number of Technical Advisory Committees and in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) as the regulator to develop and update these qualifications.

“The project was a significant piece of work, and vital to deliver standardised quality training and skills to an ever-growing workforce which will mitigate risks and help the industry to tackle the rapidly changing technological environment,” he said.

RPAS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Member and Executive Director of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS), Greg Tyrrell, said the development of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems qualification was a journey fueled by real drive and experience from industry and the regulator, along with the support of AIS.

“The TAC went into the process expecting to update the Cert III in Aviation (Remote Pilot – Visual Line of Sight), and by the end of the process we had not only accomplished that, but we had developed what is believed to be the world’s first qualification for professionals wanting to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations.

“This qualification in particular is a positive enabler for industry as we develop professionalism and aim for more complex and safe operations,” he said.

The Aviation Training Package provides the only nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications for occupations involved in aerodrome operations, airport safety, ground operations, cargo services, customer service, aviation transport protection, aviation search and rescue, management and supervision, air traffic control, flight operations and flight instruction.

AIS Industry Manager for Aviation, Greg Spence, said AIS was pleased to support the IRC on such an important project.

“Work commenced on behalf of the Aviation IRC in 2017 with the scheduling of a staged review of the AVI Aviation Training Package to ensure that training products were reflective of national policies and standards, contained contemporary and relevant units of competency, and are available for use by industry at a point in time when Aviation safety legislative requirements took effect.

“Under the direction of the IRC, AIS established Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) for these projects, made up of subject matter experts from industry to provide technical input.

“The TACs consisted of over 60 industry representatives in five committees, namely, Flight Operations, Ground Operations, Rescue Crew, Remote Pilot Aircraft System and Cargo Services.

“The projects involved a collaborative review of existing Units of Competency in addition to the development of new Units of Competency to address the skilling requirements of the Aviation Industry.

“The RPAS qualification in particular is expected to play a significant role in the Aviation Industry over the next 20 years with almost 900 organisations now certified to carry out commercial drone activities in Australia,” Mr Spence said.

The approved Aviation Training Package materials are now available at training.gov.au.

The Aviation Industry Reference Committee thanks all stakeholders who provided feedback and the Technical Advisory Committees for their invaluable contribution to the project.