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Signs of Progress Among Women Who Drone Despite low UK Statistics

Sinead Donnelly

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Despite an increasing number of women involved in the wider drone economy the number of female drone operators remains low. 

While the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) doesn’t monitor the gender of those who apply for permission to carry out commercial drone operations, in March 2017, only 3% of airline pilots worldwide were women. In the UK the figure was a mere 6%.

Elena Major, Operations Manager at the UK Drone Association, ARPAS-UK, highlighted that there are limited numbers of female recreational drone operators: “There are more women involved in the wider drone economy,” she said.

ARPAS-UK is the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, a not for profit trade association and professional body which works closely with industry regulators, including the CAA, to influence and ensure that the regulatory framework for the safe and professional operation of remotely piloted aircraft is fit for purpose and encourages best practice.

Carys Kaiser is a female drone operator, an ARPAS Committee member and a one of only a handful of drone trainers in the UK. She is also a staunch advocate of women who use drones. In her blog the Drone Lass she says: “For a long time it has been known that women are not joining the ranks of professional drone pilots. Studies are underway to understand why women are not becoming professional pilots”.

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In April, Carys joined The Aerial Academy as a flight instructor, and launched the UK’s first women only Permission for Commercial Operation (PFCO) course for anyone who wants to use their drone commercially in the UK to gain insurance and be safe and legal. She hopes that this course will be “received as a positive move by the drone industry.”

However, Elena Major of ARPAS-UK also pointed out that there have been signs of progress in the drone community. She says that many organisations drone divisions’ including the Department for Transport- where Legislation & Regulations are discussed and created- is headed up by a woman and that there is an equal female to male employee ratio.

“Again, there are a good number of women involved in the drone department at the CAA and again it is led by a woman,” she said.

Major highlighted that ARPAS continues to ensure diversity in its organisation: “Here at ARPAS, we have 2 women on the Committee of 12, with 2 more in Operations. There are women in the insurance sector, hardware manufacturing and software.”

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Sinead Donnelly

Journalist

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