Sky-Future certifies first round of US remote pilots

By Emily Aasand | July 08, 2015

Sky-Futures, an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) company offering inspections in oil and gas, has approved three new remote pilots, including the first two Sky-Future U.S. remote pilots. The training program, which took place in the U.K., featured extensive in-house training courses including ground school, flight training and industry specific inductions, all of which had to be passed to Sky-Future training team satisfaction in order for qualification and Sky-Futures Remote Pilot (S-FRP) certificates to be awarded.

The training facilities enable the S-FRP instructors to build trainee remote pilot skills by creating facilities that include free standing structures of more than 100 feet to create challenging and dangerous environments the pilots will likely encounter when inspecting infrastructure for Sky-Futures oil and gas clients, the company said.

The two new U.S. members will join Jay Forte, vice president of operations, in Houston, Texas, to form the core of the U.S. business.

“Following Sky-Futures 333 exemption from the FAA earlier this year and the opening of our Houston office in March, we have been growing the team in order to support the expected growth in operations in the largest potential single source marketplace for Sky-Futures service,” said Forte. “We are pleased to welcome two new experienced and ambitious remote pilots to the team alongside an inspection engineer with over eight years’ experience. They have received world-class training in the U.K. and will enable Sky-Futures USA to continue to deliver the same exceptional standard of inspection that Sky-Futures’ clients expect globally.”

Sky-Futures is the third company in the U.K. to hold Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) National Qualified Entity status, which enables the company to train remote pilots to a CAA-approved competency level for visual-line-of-sight UAS operations.

“All of our newly trained remote pilots and inspection engineers come from a range of background and industries where they have already gained many of the skills required in order to be successful remote pilots and camera operators in the oil and gas industry,” said Nick Rogers, chief regulatory and training officer for Sky-Futures. “Our training center further develops the remote pilots flying skills by testing their skills on facilities that replicate the challenging real world inspection scenarios that they will find working at oil and gas facilities onshore and offshore.”

In March, Sky-Futures’ U.S. sector, received a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration exemption to use Ascending Technology’s Falcon 8 drone for inspection services in the oil and gas industry in the United States.

Sky-Futures has had a strong presence in the global drone inspection market and has done work for companies that include Chevron and Conoco Phillips after getting its start in the U.K. Sky-Futures services include flare stack inspections as well as work on communication towers on off-shore oil platforms. “We can check under the decks, as well,” said Jason Forte, vice president of business development at Sky-Futures USA. “We can look at splash zones and see if anything has rusted or corroded.” Utilizing the UAS technology would reduce typical inspection risks, reduce inspection times and associated costs, which would provide significant savings, the company added.

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