A large component of drone safety is proficiency.  The FAA defines “proficiency” as the state of art of being proficient; performing in a given art, skill, or branch of learning with expert correctness; adeptness, and skillfulness.  In a nutshell, proficiency implies operating with skillfulness and expertise.

The technical definition is less important than how you put it into practice.  What does proficiency mean to you when it comes to drones?  It really depends on how you plan to use your drone.  Is it for recreation or commercial purposes?  Are you just spending time in your yard, or do you plan to use the drone elsewhere?  If you’re only using your drone in your yard in good weather, proficiency will require a much lower skill level than that of an insurance adjuster using their drone as part of their work, which often involves less than perfect weather conditions.  No matter how you deploy your drone, the path towards proficiency is the same—develop a proficiency plan.

  1. Have a goal or goals for where you want to be. This is often more difficult than it sounds because you need to answer the following questions:
  • What do you need to be able to do to complete your mission?
  • Are you flying in your local FRIA or are you exploring in a mountainous area?
  • What are the most difficult, yet manageable, weather conditions in which you need to fly your drone to complete your mission?
  1. Determine what it will take for you to meet your goal(s).
  • What experience do you need to gain?
  • How can you build towards safely gaining this experience?
  1. After every flight, be honest with yourself and reflect on your flight.
  • What did you do well and what do you need to do to progress?
    • The difficulty is avoiding the human tendency of complacency. “Complacency is the enemy of progress.”
  • Ask yourself what you could have done better.
    • Before each flight, reflect on your previous flight or flights and see what and where you need to improve.

Pilots who are continuously driving towards “perfect” proficiency often create a record of progression, where they can analyze, review, and explore the qualities and skills they need to improve.  They then update the record through evaluation so they can get a sense quantitatively of where they stand.  Finally, they build a plan to increase their proficiency to meet their stated goal(s).

The big picture takeaway is that no one arrives at proficiency by accident.  They strive to attain it by working and improving key skill areas to develop weaknesses into strengths.

As you progress on your remote pilot proficiency journey, questions may arise.  Gleim Aviation is here at aviationcits@gleim.com to support you and your development.