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AirAsia Greenlit to Provide Drone Training in Malaysia

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

AirAsia Group (AirAsia), in its ongoing bid to diversify, just received approval to train drone pilots.

With drones now becoming more prevalent among various business verticals, new policies and industry capabilities are being developed to ensure best practices can be put into place quickly. What AirAsia received from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) is one such ongoing effort. Officially and globally, only CAA can provide approval for any commercial-based drone training.

In receiving its Certificate of Approval, AirAsia can now conduct proper drone training for prospective pilots. Its courses, for the time being, consist of two parts: classroom training at the AirAsia Academy in KL Sentral – a city transportation and business hub just outside of downtown Kuala Lumpur, and practical classes on the open field grounds at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Kuala Lumpur. Both locations are within close proximity of each other, ensuring management convenience.

Credit: AirAsia

“This new training programme provides an opportunity to upskill our (AirAsia) Allstars and offer exciting new programmes for the broader community, as well as supporting the drone industry in providing quality training to have more qualified remote pilots in Malaysia. No prior experience is necessary, making this a great opportunity for everyone to learn to fly,” said Bo Lingam, Group CEO, AirAsia Aviation Ltd.

The latest development supports the upcoming drone pilot project for the delivery of goods from AirAsia’s eCommerce platforms using automated drones.

(Front right) Captain Ling with the rest of AirAsia Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) team. Credit: AirAsia

“The idea behind becoming a Remote Pilot Training Organisation (RPTO) is to support (various industries) with quality remote pilot training and (also) leverage on our strong aviation background and decades of expertise. The unmanned aircraft system has become an important element in many industries driving cost-effectiveness and numerous efficiencies,” added Captain Ling Liong Tien, Chief Safety Officer, AirAsia Group.

The approved training courses and links to apply are listed below:

Having the official certification may be the first step for AirAsia as this can be considered a pilot programme for drone training. Once the processes are refined and streamlined, there is the possibility that this initiative can be rolled out into other regions where drones are a fast-growing trend. This will likely be Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand once their respective CAA hammers down the processes.

“Innovation has always been in our DNA and we can’t wait to launch the new drone curriculum at the Drone Academy within our digital edutech arm, AirAsia Academy, as we continue to support the digitalisation of Malaysia through a broad range of innovative tech-based training programmes. Drone delivery will soon become our latest logistics solution, providing a strong boost to support the ever-growing e-commerce industry. Most importantly, this innovation will allow us to create new high-tech job opportunities for Malaysians,” shared Aireen Omar, President, Digital, AirAsia Group.

Depending on which industry is being considered, this move from AirAsia can be seen as timely or a misstep. Late last year, Amazon shuttered its drone development offices in Europe as part of its global downsizing exercise. Initial talks of rolling out drone delivery for Singapore in 2016 also sputtered out prematurely.

Credit: GovTech Singapore

Even so, recent news reports confirmed how the Singapore Government is considering the use of drones to deliver life-saving medicine and supplies during emergencies or respond to security breaches. Across the Causeway, Alibaba continues to grow its presence in Southeast Asia with the expansion of its logistics hub joint venture with Malaysia Airport Holdings at the airport hub in Sepang. This includes deploying more inventory management drones and, possibly, drone delivery systems.

AirAsia also confirmed that more theoretical and practical modules are now being developed and will be included in its commercial drone training course.

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