36. UAS Remote Pilot Certificate

While preparing for tomorrow’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Disaster Management class at the Ohio Emergency Operations Center in Columbus, I was thinking about how good a fit that job might be for hams involved in emergency response.  I recently discovered that the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, has released new rules governing commercial use of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or sUAS.

As of August 29th it became possible to pass a knowledge test to qualify for an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS rating.  In addition to passing a 60 question exam, you must also complete an FAA Airman Certification application form and be approved by the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA.  The certificate is good for two years, and requires another exam in order to renew it.  There is a different qualification procedure for those who already hold an FAA pilot certificate.

Why would a ham wish to obtain a sUAS Remote Pilot Certificate?  Well, unmanned aerial surveys of areas impacted by emergencies have proven quite valuable.  You may have noticed the use of unmanned vehicles by the media following recent tornadoes in District 3.  The fact is that for a while at least there will be a shortage of FAA licensed remote pilots as commercial uses skyrocket.

This is an opportunity to enter a relatively new field just as it begins to take off, if you’ll pardon the expression.  Maybe a ham will be one of the first to deliver disaster supplies via an unmanned vehicle!  For more information, go to www.faa.gov/uas .