A new set of regulations take effect on August 29 that will encourage companies to launch more products based on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and create jobs needed for this fast-growing industry.
The document is the Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107), released on June 21 by the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It sets up the standard parameters to operate small, commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or drones.
“This will have a big impact on what businesses can do with drones,” said Mark Sharp, UAV instructor at Truckee Meadows Community College in a press release. “It takes the mystery away for people starting businesses, and taking away uncertainty is better for companies.” He said it’s also better for students who are exploring the many careers related to UAS. “Before these newly established standards, you needed a Sport Pilot’s license to operate a drone for commercial purposes,” Sharp said. “Sport Pilot’s licenses could cost between $9,000 to $14,000. Now, after learning fundamentals and getting solid preparation, the license test will cost around $165.”
Joe Sanford, a classroom volunteer who is a retired electrical and systems engineer, agrees. “Companies will know what costs to expect and will be able to create new products,” he said. “Employers are looking for people that are trained in UAS theory, have solid competencies and good judgment.” TMCC offers a Certificate of Achievement, Unmanned Aerial Systems Technician.
Piloting drones will only be a small percentage of the careers available in UAS. A wide array of associated occupations will include systems upkeep and repair, mission and project planning, and data compiling. “The data processing part will be huge and it takes someone with a good attention to detail,” Sharp said. “Data picked up on sensors and cameras will be input to computer programs to create a multitude of products like topographic maps, spectral diagrams, computing volume of reservoirs and estimating watershed.” Drones can quickly collect much data and new products will be built with that data.
The new FAA rule, Part 107, takes effect in late August for non-hobbyist drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The regulations apply to those flying UAV for hire, commercially, at 0 feet to 400 feet above the ground. To fly commercially, one needs to be at least 16-years-old and pass a multi-part written test given at an Airman Knowledge Testing Center. When applying for the test, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does a background check on the applicant. Successful completion of the test earns a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate with a Small UAS Rating.
The UAV technologies classrooms and lab is currently undergoing the second phase of renovations at the William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center. The lab space is being enlarged and there will be a dedicated area for work with drone-building composite materials. For information about the UAV technology program, contact TMCC’s Technical Sciences Division at 775-856-5302 or Sharp at 856-5325.