Who are you and what do you do?

“I’m Mark Hullegie from Droneconsultancy. I accompany professional drone operators with obtaining permits. I also supervise organizational advisory processes for governments and provide training on SORA and the Specific category. I regularly spar or coach with drone team leaders or people who are considering a career switch towards drones.”

How and when did you come into contact with drones?

“In 2017 by Mark Nicolai of Aeroscan. He asked me to help write an operations manual.”

When did you decide to work with this professionally?

“After obtaining the permit, I started with a page about drones on my website Inspired Teams. I got more view on that page than on the rest of the site without doing anything for it. Then I thought: here’s something going on. I love innovative and entrepreneurial people myself and they came my way more and more often.”

Do you even fly drones yourself?

“No, that may sound crazy, but funny enough it also has advantages. I don’t fill in anything quickly and I ask drone operators how they prefer to fly. I have had a remote control plane and I know the concept of fly-away from my own experience 😉.”

You have a background as a psychosynthetic/organizational coach. How can that be reconcle with what you’re doing now? What is the red line?

“What a great question. At first I really didn’t know that, but I’m starting to see the thread. Look, for me, the drone work was just a nice addition between the organizational work. These are high peaks and low valleys, hollows or standing still. Drone work is much more ‘stable’, there’s always something to do 😊. At HTS aeronautical engineering, I discovered that I love people and even more people who would like to achieve something, the way many of my clients want. Together you will move on was my motto.

Psychosynthesis teaches me to move in search of the synthesis (1+1 = much more than 2). I also do that during the conversations I have with customers. I love listening to what moves people. The common thread of everything is that I love having conversations and looking for what is most important and even meaningful to the other person. I’m sometimes called the Drone Psychologist 🙂. I proverbially help people and companies from A to B. I am also increasingly looking for sustainable business. Therefore, I prefer to work with parties that want innovation that is good for people and the planet. In this sense, too, I am looking for the synthesis between technology, people, innovation and sustainability.”

How do you look at the regulations for drones? And do you think that European regulations improve things for professional users? In which areas, and where not?

“I think we are moving forward with European legislation. When I first started I walked off all the information sessions from ILT and it felt like a policy of discouraging. Nowadays, I see that we are all working — within the possibilities we get — to increase possibilities. What I would like most is that the advisor would have become redundant with European regulations. But unfortunately, the reality is different: everything has become even more complex.”

What do you recognize a good operational handbook? What are the most common mistakes or weaknesses you encounter in your practice?

“A good operational manual is especially useful in practice and complies with the regulations. In that order! A clear structure is important and I also think that there should be pictures in it. They say a thousand words. Also use tables and attachments that you can refer to so that the manual itself remains clear. The most common mistake is that the handbook is focused entirely on the drone and looks like a manual, while the handbook is mainly intended for the crew members in the organization.”

What are the top three tips you want to give to operators who want to become active in the Specific category ‘from scratch ‘?

“I am always happy with operators who want to do it themselves and like to encourage that by giving workshops that support it. A few tips:
— Take a lot of time! The writing takes 120 to 160 hours and then the basis is. A SORA will cost you at least 60 hours more, even with a template tool.
— Use our templates (via workshop) and the original guidance of ILT to fill in pieces in the EASA template (the easy access rules).
— Think of following procedures in your organization — also as a self-employed person. Audits are coming and you want to fly safely as a professional even though other people may not.”

And do you have any tips for the current ROC holders: what steps are they best to take?

“ROC holders are moving to the ConOps system under EU regulations. To do so, they will have to submit an application to ILT and have the adapted operational manual checked. They have been sent a call from ILT with the accompanying instructions. A few tips:
— The supervision department will start risk-oriented. That means for some ROC holders that they really need to record their flight preparation and organize and record the annual or periodic training.
— Before the application for transposition, the pilots must receive additional training, but that may also take place internally. We recommend taking in-depth training courses at the beginning of 2022 because it is quite substantial changes, including in the way of flight preparation, for example.”

There is a lot of talk about drone delivery and even passenger transport by drones /UAM. How realistic do you generally find those plans, in the context of the Netherlands?

“The Netherlands is densely populated compared to many other countries. On the one hand, it is difficult to get these initiatives off the ground, on the other hand, if it does succeed it can be done That is why the Netherlands is attractive for foreign parties to get everything properly arranged here. There are opportunities there, although I personally wonder if I would rather see a drone flying down the street instead of a van. I also miss the sense of a pizza delivery by drone, but I applaud the blood transports and organ donations as well as the initiatives to use drones in the event of incidents.”

As an organizational coach/drone consultant, do you have any tips for the new minister of IenW, Barbara Visser?

“Yes, Wiebe. I have three tips for her:

1. Add more knowledge and experience to policy in The Hague as ILT. In my opinion, our new minister should add many more people (10+) to both policy and ILT in the short term to remove the brakes. Unfortunately, training new people in this complex matter takes at least a year. To help the drone sector move forward, it is necessary to reduce waiting times at ILT due to understaffing. Fortunately, the team is already bigger than before and these people are working hard, but the lead time is currently more than 4 months and more often even 6 months, while the legal term is 8 weeks. For entrepreneurs, this feels like an eternity and creates a high threshold that again leads to illegality. The uncertainty about the value of the permit and the flight certificates also causes a lot of hesitation.
2. Increase enforcement in the Open category. Many operators who have taken the professional path, see with a clear eye that colleagues do what is not allowed without a license. The chance that you will now be addressed to flying your drone in a place where that is not allowed is almost zero.
3. Communicate! It has been said and pledged so many times, but communication from policy and ILT is downright meager and gives a lot of confusion. I’m happy with Dronewatch, but communicating the formal rules through the official channels is super important.

So minister: Make it easier and more accessible to get a permit, maintain illegality, communicate and stimulate an improvement culture with audits to get better every time. Then more operators can fly more safely in order to solve social issues.”

If you had to type the Dutch drone sector in one word, which word do you choose?

“Inhibited. So much more can be achieved, see also my answer above.”