Rusta, an unmanned aerial vehicles specialist based in Lincolnshire, has provided an insight into what it takes to run its flight operations.
The company has been running its Remote Pilot Certificate Advanced and Remote Pilots Certificate Defence (RPCA & RPCD) courses for over two years and in that time Rusta’s UAV and ISR professionals have trained many different and varied security and defence entities subjecting well over 100 individual operators to the process.
These advanced courses offer a more detailed and professional approach in not just the flying aspect but operating the UAV in order to fulfil the security, policing or defence based mission.
All of Rusta’s staff are ex-military flying instructors with thousands of hours on both manned and unmanned platforms. All have all served on operations overseas during their forces careers and are very experienced in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The first element in the RPCA and RPCD is the ground school phase, which lasts for two and a half days and is very similar to the RPCS standard course that Rusta offers. There are added elements such as a basic thermography lesson and other ISR based additions.
Once the candidates have passed the exam they are into part two, the flying phase. In phase two the candidates are divided into two-man constituted crews and start the Air Handling phase (AH).
The candidates go through the basics of flying, they start by getting to know the aircraft, running checklists and making sure the area of operations are acceptable to fly in. This phase is primarily focused on the flying of the UAV, it builds the candidates confidence and helps them critique their own performance so they can identify areas where they may need to improve.
Once the Rusta Evaluators are satisfied that the candidates are meeting the required standard they can then progress on to the more challenging Mission Element (ME) phase. This involves using the aircraft for gathering the mission specific data. Rusta teaches and demonstrate basic ISR principles, search patterns and communications techniques.
A spokesperson from Rusta said: “It’s vital that the candidates do not regress with regards to their flying ability but continue to improve on every aspect. Recently Rusta added an additional night flying exercise called Exercise Silver Eagle.
“This brings together all the AH and ME aspects and is conducted using thermal sensors. We have a team who are deployed on the ground around our target site and play the ‘hostiles’ whilst the constituted crews try to locate and track them. It adds a realistic operational element and it’s a great consolidation exercise to get them ready for the Operational Evaluations, or flight tests, that are conducted the following morning.”