Malaysian airline AirAsia says it has received a green light from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to conduct remote drone pilot training programs. But why is one of the world’s largest budget airlines looking to create more drone operators?
The first thing to know is that the CAAM approval is no small feat. AirAsia Group is the first in the country to obtain a license to conduct drone training as a remote pilot training organization (RPTO).
“The idea behind becoming an RPTO is to support the industry by providing quality remote pilot training leveraging our strong aviation background and decades of expertise,” explains Captain Ling Liong Tien, chief safety officer, AirAsia Group.
Indeed, as drones become an important element in many industries, driving cost-effectiveness and numerous efficiencies, AirAsia can leverage its expertise in aviation safety systems and crew resource management to develop effective drone training modules – both in the class and out in the field.
But a more lucrative proposition for the airline group is an upcoming pilot project focusing on the delivery of goods from AirAsia’s e-commerce platforms using automated drones. First announced in March 2021, AirAsia has been pretty gung-ho about its urban drone delivery ambitions.
As group CEO of AirAsia Aviation, Bo Lingam says, “We are proud to be driving the drone delivery revolution in Malaysia. It’s a lucrative and incredibly fast-growing market. Globally, the industry has already taken off and is projected to reach $7.4 billion by 2027.”
As such, not only would the new drone training program ensure that more Malaysians are job-ready in the new digital era, but it would also provide an opportunity for AirAsia’s existing staff to upskill. And the latter could be an important pivot for many since aviation-supported jobs are already at a dangerous low due to a COVID-19-induced downturn.
The new drone curriculum would be launched as part of AirAsia Academy, the airline group’s digital edutech arm, with Aireen Omar, president, AirAsia Group (digital), promising that “drone delivery will soon become our latest logistics solution, providing a strong boost to support the ever-growing e-commerce industry.”
Drones do have a unique ability to transform and expand the delivery space, right from e-commerce and supporting agriculture by distributing fertilizer and seeds more efficiently, to the transportation of medicines and supplies to remote rural areas. As Lingam sums up:
Ultimately this supports our vision to launch urban drone delivery in the future for goods and retail items from AirAsia’s e-commerce platforms. The skies are the limit as we can also potentially scale up to support remote areas for essential supplies during natural disasters for example.
AirAsia says its commercial drone pilot training classes will commence from January 24. Interested candidates do not need any prior aviation or flying experience and can register to enroll for one of the courses through the AirAsia Academy website.
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