John Fleming

FPV Australia founder and Chief Instructor John Fleming was among the first in Australia to offer a course on flying multirotor UAVs, gaining CASA approval to train in 2014.

In just five years he has watched drone operations evolve from novelty hobby to key capability for law enforcement and rescue agencies, government departments and major industries.

FPV Australia is now one of Australia’s leading drone training organisations, with clients including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, law enforcement and emergency services agencies, military and the National Parks and Wildlife department.

“When we first started training our students were mostly people who wanted to get in to this new drone industry or fly for fun,” Fleming said. “Now it’s mostly corporates, people employed in organisations that can see a use for drones and are training their own people to use them as another tool in the tool box.”

“I still get phone calls from people who say they’re thinking about getting in to the ‘drone industry’ and asking what the job opportunities are. I tell them that’s not the way to look at it. The most successful operators are those who are adding drones as an extra tool in an environment they already understand.”

As a private aircraft pilot Fleming has also injected traditional aviation’s safety culture and airmanship in to his training, which he believes is a key requirement if drones and traditional aviation are ever to peacefully coexist.

“A drone is an aircraft and people flying drones are pilots,” he said. “And they need to approach it that way, including their attitude to maintenance, training, safety and operations. You’re still putting an aircraft in to airspace, regardless of whether you’re sitting in the aircraft or controlling it from the ground.”

John Fleming will speak at DroneZone Downunder as part of the Drone Pilot Training (CASA Licensing and Registration) session from 10.30am to 11.30am on Sunday 3 March.