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A journey into the wild blue yonder

Chris Healy trains students for flight.

When Chris Healy’s uncle asked him to investigate how he could improve the yield on his farm without increasing its number of acres, he discovered he could use an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or a drone to do this. That’s how the new Bow Valley College instructor first got into operating professional commercial UAVs. Five years and 4,000 hours of flight experience later, he is now teaching UAV/Drone Certification at Bow Valley College. The first of the two new courses starts on May 4 at the College’s Okotoks and High River campuses. 

The College is one of the first schools in Canada to offer UAV courses that meet the new Transport Canada knowledge requirements standard. With these new regulations, which will come into effect by this summer, all drone operators will require insurance, certification, and licensing. These rules apply to anyone flying a drone for work or pleasure. 

Chris, who has worked in technology and business consulting for 20 years, has experience that shows a couple of ways this skill can be applied professionally. For example, he has used the technology to do site surveys of oil and gas assets, reducing the amount of time and labour required to perform those duties. In another farming example, he helped the client reduce its fertilizer use by about 25 per cent – the farm had previously been paying $30,000 on the product every year.

Chris says he likes the innovation that UAV technology brings to organizations. “Quite often, companies and governments are anxious to do a lot more with a lot less, and often within the same operating budgets,” he says. “So this is really creating a disruption for organizations.”

Learners can choose from two courses: Unmanned Aircraft System Small Complex (Urban) Pilot Certification and Unmanned Aircraft System Very Small and Small Limited (Rural) Pilot Certification. Both courses give learners the knowledge to safely operate drones in the same airspace as manned aircraft. The former course starts on May 4 at the High River campus. 


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Posted on April 30, 2018 

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