Drone Flight Training for Public Safety

Flight TrainingIf your agency is looking to use a drone in your operations, your team will need training. Essentially, you are creating an aviation unit and training is vital to the success of your program. Drones are a relatively new technology and some police agencies have attempted to jump in without proper training, mainly because training opportunities are hard to find. The good news is that I have developed a comprehensive program specifically for public safety agencies.

Your agency may be tempted to start a program and figure it out as you go. This is a bad idea. I’ve created a list of reasons why the training I offer is a better option.

4 Reasons this Training is the Best Option for Your Agency

  1. If your agency adopted a new technology such as the TASER™, you wouldn’t equip your officers with this technology without first training them. Drones may look easy to fly but piloting a done is complicated and untrained pilots are at a high risk of crashing. This creates a risk of personal injury and property damage. Training will reduce your liability.
  2. Employees of government agencies are required to obtain FAA approval before piloting a remote aircraft unless they are under direct supervision of a licensed sUAS pilot. I hold this credential and can legally instruct your pilots and observers.
  3. I am a professional police trainer and my training program is geared specifically toward police agencies. As a retired police captain I am very familiar with policy development, public relations and liability. I have years of experience piloting drones and training new pilots.
  4. Use of a sUAS (A.K.A drone) will be highly beneficial to your community. There is a good chance that sometime in the future, a drone will help you save a life. I urge you to be on the forefront of this cutting edge technology.

Step 1. Choose a path for FAA approval

There are two ways for your agency to obtain FAA approval for flight operations. Your pilots may operate under the Part 107 rule[1] (obtain an airman certificate with a small unmanned aircraft system rating) or, your agency may apply for a certificate of authorization (COA)[2]. Some agencies do both as each of these certifications authorize specific activities. Obtaining the Part 107 certification requires you to pass a knowledge exam and will require study and preparation. The COA process involves the agency to obtain FAA approval through an online portal. This process is a bit more complex and requires the preparation and submission of a number of documents. The COA process may take few weeks or could take up to 60 days.

Fortunately, the FAA no longer requires your sUAS pilots to obtain a manned aircraft pilot’s license as they once did. However, agencies applying for a COA need to show the FAA that their pilots and observers have obtained sufficient training. I can aid your agency in navigating through this process. My training will support the FAA’s training requirement.

Step 2. Identify and purchase the equipment for your program

In order to make the training realistic it will include setup and use of the actual equipment you will be using. To accomplish this, it would be best for you to purchase the equipment early on in the program.  I have a relationship with Wisconsin based dealers which would provide you preferred pricing, lower than the current market price. I am also prepared to travel to your community to demonstrate an Inspire 1.


Step 3. Train Your Pilots

Ground School (Flight operations and maintenance)

In order to operationalize your program, I recommend that your pilots start by obtaining the Part 107 certification from the FAA. Doing so will provide them a strong working knowledge of airspace rules and unmanned aviation principles. As part of the ground school, I will explain how to obtain this certification and help your pilots prepare for the written exam.

As I am sure you are aware, classroom training does not fully prepare your pilots for flight operations. They will need hands-on experience and practical skills to succeed. This training program will cover the fundamentals of unmanned flight customized to your aircraft. The program will include a blend of classroom and field training.

Lesson 1. Fundamentals of Unmanned Flight

  • Components of a multi-rotor
  • Aircraft sensors
  • Aerodynamics of multi-rotor aircraft
  • Weight and balance
  • Aircraft loading and conditions which affect flight performance
  • Turbulence and prop-wash
  • Control inputs and how they influence the aircraft
  • Telemetry and video links

Lesson 2. Aircraft Functions, Settings and Maintenance

  • Tablet / smart device interface connectionsFLIR image
  • Flight modes (waypoints, point of interest, course lock, home lock)
  • Camera functions and settings
  • Flight controller settings (max altitude, return to home)
  • Flight controller and compass calibrations
  • Firmware updates
  • Software updates
  • Battery monitoring, power cycling
  • Setup, takedown and transportation
  • Propeller installation and replacement
  • Battery and propeller replacement schedules, detecting problems
  • Auto landing and return to home functions
  • Third party apps

Lesson 3. Flight Team Roles and Responsibilities

  • Role of Pilot in Command (PIC)
  • Role of Observer
  • Communications
  • Working with Incident Command
  • Providing real time intelligence to officers on the ground

Lesson 4. Preflight Preparation, Mission Planning

  • Developing a checklist and conducting preflight inspections
  • Hazzard detection, mitigating risk
  • Maintaining a flight log
  • Mission planning
  • Emergency procedures
  • Aviation weather
  • Selecting alternative landing sites

Lesson 5. Public Relations/Accountability

  • IACP recommendations
  • Record keeping
  • Mitigating public opposition
  • Preparing for open records requests

Lesson 6. Policy Development

  • Pilot training requirements
  • Approval process for missions, chain of command in flight ops
  • Image retention
  • Pilot fitness, fatigue and crew rest limitations
  • Accident/incident reporting

Lesson 7. Risk Management

  • Developing a safety risk plan
  • Lost communication and lost control link procedures
  • Aeronautical decision making, identifying and correcting hazardous attitudes
  • Review of the most common pilot errors with sUAS that lead to fly-aways, crashes, injury and property damage
  • Identifying alternative landing locations

Lesson 8. Constitutional and Legal Considerations

  • Personal privacy considerations when operating near private property
  • Aerial surveillance and case law
  • A review of the local, state and federal laws regulating drones which impact law enforcement use of sUAS
  • Using sUAS to gather evidence and emergency exceptions
  • Case studies of drone related incidents

Lesson 9. Federal Aviation Regulations

  • Explanation of part 107 sUAS regulationsFAA Logo
  • Aircraft registration
  • Preflight inspection requirements and maintenance records
  • Altitude, weight and speed restrictions
  • Airspace rules
  • Right of way when encountering manned aircraft
  • Prohibited areas, temporary flight restrictions
  • Accident reporting
  • How and when to request FAA waivers for special operations

Lesson 10. Part 107 test prep and review

In order to obtain a Part 107 certification (an Airman Certificate with rating for sUAS) the applicant must pass a knowledge exam. This session will review the materials covered on the exam and conclude with a sample test.

Practical Skills, Flight Training

Lesson 11. Flight Simulator Training

The first few hours of sUAS operation are the highest risk due to inexperience. This session will build your pilot’s skills and confidence on a flight simulator and get them through this high risk period. As with all training, repetition and building muscle memory are keys to improving proficiency. The following skills will be developed:

  • Take-off and landing
  • Orientation: first person view vs. line of sight
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Object tracking
  • Mixing inputs, multi-tasking

Lesson 12. Hands-on Flight Training

The student will develop their skills and pilot the sUAS in an outdoor environment under the direct supervision of the flight instructor. The student will master a series of flight maneuvers and learn how to apply the classroom training through scenarios. This training will involve the Pilot in Command (PIC) and an Observer. If the client uses a dual remote system, the PIC can work in tandem with an observer. A third person can take on the role of the observer.

  • Pre-flight safety briefing
  • Pre-flight inspection
  • Flight logs
  • Power on-off procedures
  • Take-off and landing
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Object tracking
  • Power management
  • Navigation
  • Scenario based training
  • In-flight emergencies
  • Object identification
  • Communication between PIC, Observer and Ground Crews

Please complete the online form to request more information or a quote.

[1] https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/06/28/2016-15079/operation-and-certification-of-small-unmanned-aircraft-systems


About Bill Bongle

Bill Bongle is a 29-year police veteran and technology consultant, rising to the rank of Captain before retiring from the Green Bay Police Department in 2015. In 2015 Bill started Titletown Drones LLC, a company which provides drone related training and equipment. He specializes in assisting public safety agencies establish their drone programs. Bill has developed several drone related training courses including part 107 test prep and flight training. Bill has trained hundreds of commercial drone pilots, police officers, firefighters and government officials across the nation.