How Can Eyeup OSC Training Benefit your Operations?
When Chris and Lacey wanted to improve their operations and gain some valuable exemptions, they turned to Eyeup Aerial Solutions for help.
The couple run Vantage Drone Services, an outfit offering a range of services but always wanting to provide a service and product that is second to none. “Lacey has a video production background”, explains Chris, “and we have an excellent editing suite allowing us to handle a wide range of video and photographic work to high standards.
The company has been operating in the Leeds area since Chris gained his PfCO in February 2018. With a constant desire to improve and 18 months solid operations under his belt, an OSC seemed to be the logical next step, so in September 2019 Chris attended one of Eyeup’s “Approach to OSC” training courses. Why choose this route when there are other, arguably easier, template-based approaches?
Chris enjoys a challenge and believes that good things should be earned. As far as he was concerned there was no point in spending money on a product which he felt he may not have the background knowledge to understand. “My operational processes are the backbone of my business and I want to be able to stand behind every aspect of what I do. If anybody, particularly a client, the CAA or an insurer asks me why I do something the way I do, then I want to be able to explain in detail… that has a real value for me”.
When the training day came around, Chris felt immediately at ease, as he found himself among a small group of like-minded operators. Eyeup attracts pilots who may be from different types of organisation (from one-man bands to major corporations) but they all have the desire to improve the safety of their operations in common and are happy to share knowledge about what works for them. This really helps bind the groups (which are kept deliberately small – even for the COVID-Secure live video versions) while encouraging a great learning environment. As far as this course goes, there is no such thing as a silly question and nobody should leave feeling judged.
At the end of the training day, Chris realised that each OSC is, by necessity, different. There is some commonality and cross-over from your current manual, but a good OSC application must be written around what will work for you as an operator. “The CAA is not looking against a tick-list”, observes Chris, “but a process that works to keep you safe and which it can underwrite”. So, you need to work through your mitigations and describe them in a structured way.
“The writing process itself became slightly addictive”, says Chris. “Lacey would drag me off the computer at the end of a writing session. I would find myself putting it off and then going in again for another go”. Graham Degg, Eyeup’s founder, is aware of the problem and advises his students to take the writing process a little bit at a time, with sensible breaks.
Chris also suffered a little “imposter syndrome”. “Who am I to be telling the UK’s aviation regulator the best way to manage the safety of my flight operations?” he asks. One point he did make in his manual was that he had attended Eyeup’s course. This went in as part of his evidence in his Volume 3 and helped to indicate to the CAA that he takes safety seriously. Well, fortunately the CAA judged his efforts to be good enough for him to walk away with a range of fantastic exemptions.
With take-off and landing down to 5m, flight to 10m or 75m from crowds over 1000, plus the ability to fly 1500m EVLOS and up to 700ft ceiling, Vantage is in a great position to win some interesting contracts or provide comprehensive white label services.
“I was aware that the CAA team know Graham, so I didn’t think it would do any harm to mention the effort I had taken to understand the requirements of an OSC.” Eyeup can’t confirm that attendance on the course makes a difference either way and the CAA isn’t in a position to approve, or show favour, to anybody offering consultancy and training services at the OSC level…but we do know that they look at an operator holistically and this may include where they go for advice and assistance.
Chris also found that dealing with the CAA at this level was quite a positive experience. “While the forms for an OSC application are a bit archaic, once the technical review stage came it was great to be able to chat through any issues with my contact in the SUA Sector team. Fortunately, there weren’t many of them and I pretty much got what I had applied for”.
Eyeup would like to congratulate Chris and Lacey. They have taken the Eyeup training, worked hard and really deserve their fantastic set of exemptions. Chris is also well able to maintain and improve his own manuals over time. An understanding of the process means he won’t have to turn to an external provider for updates, making the initial training far more of an investment than turning to a template house.
Vantage Drones are based in the Leeds area and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve got this far, produced your own operations manual (or confidently and regularly update it) and are interested in pursuing your own exemptions, then you should be contacting Eyeup.