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TOP? So What?

TOP? So What?

Stephen C. Glaus
TOP? So What?

By this point in time, you may have heard about a program through AUVSI known as TOP, or the Trusted Operator Program©. The name of the program itself begs the question: “Can I be trusted as an operator?” and, “How do I earn that trust?”.

When we go to the doctor’s office, the dentist, a chiropractor, to an auto shop, or even an airport to travel, we do so with a presumed confidence that the professionals rendering such services can be trusted to safely and efficiently fulfill their roles. We trust them by virtue of the tedious requirements associated with their jobs. A doctor’s diagnosis is invalid without the official credentials that license him or her to render it. A pilot of a commercial airline must undergo hundreds, if not thousands of hours, of flight training, simulations, and flight-time as a co-pilot before they are given the full responsibility of captaining an air vessel.

Imagine calling an electrician to come fix your broken outlets. He or she arrives looking rather unprepared, admitting that they aren’t sure if they have the right tools but that they watched a few videos online and are somewhat certain they can fix your problem. You later find out they have no license or certification to conduct the services they offer. Rather quickly, any amount of trust they might have established (if any) vanishes.

Or who in their right mind would want an amateur, a person void of the necessary knowledge, skill, training, and experience, being the dentist prying around in their mouth with needles and drills? Or how comfortable would it make you to hear a pilot brief the cabin about their fear and lack of confidence and trust in themselves to safely land the plane you have boarded?

Sure, these may all be extreme examples, but only because of our expectation of strict and rigid guidelines that many professionals must follow to practice their work. Without regulatory bodies and licensing governance, the world around us would quickly become a place void of trust. Unfortunately, as commercial drone pilots, that has often been the public response to our endeavors: a lack of trust.

The Inadequacy of the Part 107 Certification

While the FAA did provide operators a pathway to official licensing through the addition of Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (a process to which Consortiq can give expert guidance and support), a license alone is not enough. Consider a 16-year-old teenager who is freshly equipped with a brand-new driver’s license – can they be trusted to obey traffic laws and safely navigate through heavy traffic? One would hope, but only time can tell.

As for a newly licensed drone pilot, the Part 107 exam does not require a pilot skills test, so in some cases, even the most unskilled drone pilot can be licensed to take their drones to the sky - even those who have never actually flown a drone. It is no wonder that there is a noticeable level of distrust of drone operators.

AUVSI Trusted Operator Program Credentials

Thankfully AUVSI developed a certification program premised on pilot safety, competency, trustworthiness, and perhaps most importantly – an endorsement of skill level. A collaborative effort between 197 organizations and high-level safety and risk management authorities gave birth to AUVSI’s newly released Trusted Operator Program. Now drone pilots worldwide have the opportunity to prove their drone mastery, professionalism, and dependability through an official certifying process.

Can you be trusted as a commercial drone pilot?

How can you earn that trust? If you are truly committed to taking your drone career to the next level and having the means to substantiate your claims of professionalism, skill, and dependability – the TOP program is an absolute must. As one of the few certified TOP training providers, Consortiq can help you achieve your TOP goals and help you advance through TOP Levels 1, 2, and 3. Check out Consortiq’s website (link) to learn how you can begin your journey to achieving the highest industry standard of excellence. Reach out to me directly if you are ready to get certified today!

Also be on the lookout for future blog releases as I go into further detail with each TOP Level (1, 2, & 3) and what they entail!

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