Oban Airport set to be ‘world’s only’ drone hub

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UK Government funding of £173,400 is to be used to develop a state-of-the-art facility at Oban Airport, which will enable drone pilots to train all year round.

‘From climate research to mountain rescue operations, drones can support rural communities in places like Argyll and Bute,’ says a post on the UK Government Scotland’s Facebook page.

In an accompanying video shot outside Oban Airport, SAMS teaching fellow Dr Phil Anderson explained: ‘This is now developing into a technology hub for all sorts of robotic airborne operations. The project we’re looking at is having an all-weather facility for training the next generation of drone pilots.

‘We are using these aircraft for climate research. We are interested at looking at harmful algal blooms that affect local aquaculture. We’re looking for plastics in the marine environment. But that leads into people also using this facility for commercial projects.’

Senior drone pilot Richard Dale said in the video: ‘Basically this could be a one-off in the world at the moment. There’s nowhere else in Europe that can offer this kind of facility currently. Having the funding here for that, in rural Argyll, is an amazing draw for lots and lots of people.’

Dr Anderson concluded: ‘Once this facility is on board and running, we will be able to do so much more all year round. People can be trained up in the middle of winter. Having all that in one place at Oban Airport is going to be a real bonus for the local community with jobs.

‘It is going to help aquaculture in the local community, as well as helping save the planet with climate research.’