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Western Cape’s first drone pilots graduate, servicing agriculture industry

UAV Industries (UAVI), the Western Cape’s only drone pilot training centre, has released its first UAVI-pilotsbatch of 14 graduates. These are the first certified trained pilots who are authorised to fly drones in the region. This spells the commencement of new jobs in the country for the mining industry, with just four training schools currently in South Africa.

UAV Industries Chief Instructor, Greg Donaldson, explains, “People think that drones are just good for Cape Town’s booming film industry, but there are a wide diversity of industries that will need, and employ, certified drone pilots – mining particularly will be huge. Anything that manned aviation does today that doesn’t involve the transportation of passengers will be taken over by drones over the next five to ten years so there’s huge opportunities for the industry. Things are moving incredibly quickly.”

UAV Industries has assumed first mover advantage in the Cape. On the 23rd of December, the Civil Aviation provided UAV Industries with the certificate to train individuals as a Remote Training Organisation (RTO) under part 141 of the Civil Aviation regulations.

“Within the first week of January we had a lot of interest from potential drone pilots and we’ve been working with mainly experienced model aeroplane flyers that which to convert into legal drone pilots. In the first 8 weeks we’ve had over 50 people book through our courses and our first “recruits” already certified and ready to earn,” adds Donaldson.

To fly a drone legally the operator needs three items of paperwork: the drone, pilot and company all need to be licenced. 

“What we’re offering through our training school is the ability to licence the pilot and to get the equivalent in manned aviation of a commercial pilot’s licence. There is a pre-on site program and then there’s two weeks full time on site between the ground school and flight school, totaling three to four weeks in total.”

“There is a lot of detail and requirements that are needed for people to understand the airspace that one’s operating. We need this time to shape expert flyers into commercial flyers. It’s not the ability so much to fly a drone, but it’s that concept of safe flying - all the risk assessments that go around a mission or a flight, and understanding how to integrate manned and unmanned aviation. Crucial in our course is airmanship. You can be the best radio control aircraft flyer, but you’ll fail our course if you don’t have situational awareness of, not just the drone, but the other users of the airspace around you - people on the ground, buildings, and property. For the final pass to get your licence, we bring a Civil Aviation designated examiner out from Johannesburg who tests out every single student to Civil Aviation standards and we will not recommend a student to that test unless they meet our standards - we haven’t had one student fail so far. It’s a very good measure. The designated examiner has been very complimentary of the standard which we train our students, specifically airmanship safety.”  

As part of the course, UAV Industries facilitates the entire process with Civil Aviation to get their “red book” – the pilots licence, leaving the pilot to ensure they have a legal Remote Operating Company (ROC) and the drone is registered.

Being a drone pilot is a “future-proof job”. A large function of how much the pilot can expect to earn per day depends on the equipment with drones varying in size from the size of a smart phone to a motor car.

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Various Macroalgae Found to Respond Well to UV-A Alone

While it is fairly well-known that some macroalgae can use ultraviolet light A (UV-A) Phycologiafor photosynthesis, researchers Juntian Xu and Kunshan Gao tested the magnitude of this phenomenon on a range of red, green, and brown seaweeds. The pair observed that when photosynthetically active radiation (i.e. the white light in our visible spectrum) was not present, UV-A elicited photosynthetic carbon fixation rates in every species they tested.

The authors of “Photosynthetic Contribution of UV-A to Carbon Fixation by Macroalgae” worked to find the influence of UV brightness on macroalgae photosynthesis. The most important discovery in the article, according to author Juntian Xu, is that “solar UV-A alone can trigger photosynthetic carbon fixation of macroalgae, which is true for all the species tested across green, red, and brown algae.” These findings were consistent across each species of macroalgae they tested.

The positive impact of UV-A radiation can be huge. For example, UV-B radiation negatively impacts organismal growth, communities, and, more specifically, photosynthetic processes. Ultraviolet light A does nearly the opposite, as long as it is at a moderate level. It can even repair damage caused by UV-B radiation.

To arrive at these findings, the team studied photosynthetic carbon fixation and O2 evolution with only UV-A present. The range of eleven macroalgal species, all from Nanao Island in China, was tested and gave varying photosynthetic rates. The gross ratio of UV-A to photosynthetically active radiation was as much as 22 percent.

Algae and cyanobacteria are vital to aquatic ecosystems because they produce approximately 50 percent of the photosynthesis in their environment. However, macroalgae, which are also important to the carbon cycle, live in shallow waters and take in direct solar and ultraviolet light. This prompted the researchers to take a closer look at the positive relationship between macroalgae and UV-A, which yielded consistent results.

Full text of the article, “Photosynthetic Contribution of UV-A to Carbon Fixation by Macroalgae,” Phycologia, Vol. 55, No. 3, 2016, is available at: http://www.phycologia.org/doi/full/10.2216/15-91.1.


Phycologia is published bimonthly by the International Phycological Society and serves as a publishing medium for information about any aspect of phycology, basic or applied, including biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, and systematics. Learn more about the society at http://www.intphycsoc.org/.

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