Interview with Operations Director at AlteX Academy Yifei Zhao

Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, I am here with Yifei Zhao from AlteX Academy.  AlteX Academy is a Transport Canada compliant Drone/RPAS training facility. They assist drone operators to achieve Safe, Efficient, and Effective flight operations.  I met Yifei at ProFusion Expo 2019.  In our interview, we discuss drone operation, rules and regulations, training at AlteX Academy, and much more.  

Yifei Zhao Operations Director at AlteX Academy
Yifei Zhao Operations Director at AlteX Academy

1. Can you tell us how you got into the drone business?

We were doing a lot of remote location filming back in 2009 – 2010. It was difficult carrying heavy film equipment to remote locations. So we were looking for an alternative solution to achieve a better camera angle but with less equipment. That’s when we came across drones. It seemed to be the perfect solution.

2. Some people wonder if they really need a drone license? Does someone enforce this requirement? Is there a fine for not having a license?

I look at this almost like Driver’s License. The moment someone drives a car on the road, they need a driver’s license. Would they always get stopped by the police? Probably not every time. But if they do, or an accident/incident happens, they will be required to produce a license. That’s the same with drones. Anyone wishing to fly a drone that weighs more than 250g needs a pilot certificate. Enforcement can come from Transport Canada or local law enforcement, followed by a fine.

3. How can we improve our Drone Operations with Flight Training?

Drone technology has become more and more automated in recent years. These automated machines made pilots wonder why you would need drone training. The answer to this is simple – with high-level automation, there is a bigger need to understand the equipment and workflow so pilots can manage the automated process. With professional-led training, you can improve pilot skills more efficiently and put that learning time towards effective operations.  Here’s an article with more details. 

4. How do we obtain a Pilot Certificate? Basic or Advanced?

For Basic: Take Transport Canada’s online RPAS/Drone Pilot exam. Our Ground Ground School prepares students for the exam.

For Advanced: Pass the Advanced online RPAS/Drone Pilot exam, plus take an in-person flight review (essentially a flight test). AlteX is authorized to conduct flight reviews on behalf of Transport Canada.

Here’s an article with more information.

5. Can you describe some of the drones that are currently on the market?

For consumer/prosumer drones, DJI is currently the largest manufacturer. They offer a full lineup of drones from entry-level to enterprise level.

For higher-grade professional drones, we recommend going through an enterprise dealer to better plan out the operations. There are very specialized companies that provide solutions to different industries. Such as precision survey, thermal applications, etc.

6. What kind of drone would you recommend to new users?

DJI Mavic Mini is also the only drone under 250g with a decent camera and flight control so people can try the technology without a pilot certificate. DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a good entry pro-level drone that we recommend to pilots starting to offer professional services.

7. What kind of drone would you recommend to advanced users (such as a filmmaker?)  DJI Inspire 2 is a great drone for mid-level filmmakers.

For more high-end units, Freefly systems provide heavy-lift for Red Camera and Arri Alexa Mini.

8. How can drones take Real Estate to the next level?

Drones provide a unique low-level aerial view to Real Estate. But on top of that, drones also have interesting technology to showcase 360 degrees aerial view of a large property. This can be combined with a virtual tour to allow someone to virtually walk through a property both from the air and ground before even physically setting foot on it. We believe it’s this type of technology improvements that will take Real Estate to the next level. Example – Aerial Tour of our Flight Field 

Follow What On What’s Good

Other interviews at What On What’s Good

Tags: Yifei Zhao, AlteX Academy, drones

Default image
Jovin Tardif
Jovin Tardif is a freelance writer, storyteller, interviewer, reviewer and conversation starter.