Having recently gone through RPAS training with a so called "school" which basically followed parts of the Private Pilot's License curriculum and taught almost nothing about the RPAS flying or industry, I wondered what would be the best way to teach a person to be an RPAS pilot?
And how much training would the average person need before being considered a capable RPAS pilot.
Here in South Africa a PPL requires a minimum of 40 hours, would an RPAS pilot need the same practical flying to be considered proficient? What about hours of ground station training, how long to learn Mission Planner, Tower, QGC or whatever?
It's not easy to lump everything together either as there's fixed wing and multirotor, mapping and filming, surveillance, surveys and all the other facets of RPAS'.
Take a Phantom 3, it doesn't take long to figure out how to fly it, most people would pick it up in a few days.
Yet mapping with APM:Plane would require a much longer time having to learn Mission Planner and actually how to fly a plane properly, (not just in stabilize).
Also should a person learn to fly a fixed wing plane completely manually first and only then progress on to Stabilize or FBW-A (in APM:Plane) or can thy just learn to fly in assisted mode?
I think you have some good points to consider but I will simply answer the last and probably most important point you raise.
The intention of all training and certification is to show competency and understanding of the subject. to me it is a complete nonsense that I can be trained and certified to operate a RPAS in a few days even if I cannot fly the aircraft or UAV manually in safety. That is unsafe.
If the controller screws up then the operator MUST be able to control the vehicle in a safe manner as if there was no automation. even if its only to safely steer the vehicle away from people and other hazards. If you cannot fly manually then you cannot do this.
I consider that for fixed wing a minimum standard of flight skills equivalent to a national R/C Pilot standard should be required before you can commence training to pilot a fixed wing RPAS
Yes, the standard should be high, a lot of pilots tend to rely on the autopilot even for maiden flights.
And as far as time is concerned, 20-40 hrs reasonable for someone who has never flown before?