Daily Egyptian

SIU offering drone certification program next month

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An Aerial MOB drone is used to shoot a scene on the set of

An Aerial MOB drone is used to shoot a scene on the set of "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" on Sept. 9, 2015 in Santa Clarita, Calif. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

An Aerial MOB drone is used to shoot a scene on the set of "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" on Sept. 9, 2015 in Santa Clarita, Calif. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

By Hannah Cooper

SIU’s aviation department will offer a $500 unmanned aircraft system, or “drone,” certification course in November.

The two-day course will prepare students to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Knowledge test.

In August, the FAA passed a new rule known as FAA Part 107. It requires remote pilots, also known as drone operators, to have certification to fly in certain airspaces.

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SIU’s program will cover FAA Unmanned Aircraft System regulations, weather, airport operations, aeronautical decision making and radio communications, according to a university press release.

Sales of drones that require registration are expected to grow to 2.7 million by 2020, opposed to an estimated 600,000 sales this year, according to the FAA. Drones, the FAA says, “will be the most dynamic growth sector within aviation.”

“We are starting to see more use of drones so it is helpful to have more public education,” Michael Robertson, an associate professor in SIU’s Aviation Management and Flight program, said in the news release. “People are operating drones and may have no idea what type of airspace they are operating in.”

Jan Thompson, an SIU professor of radio, television and digital media, explains the operation of her drone Nov. 16, 2015, at her home. Thompson used the drone in Montana during filming for a documentary. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Jan Thompson, an SIU professor of radio, television and digital media, explains the operation of her drone Nov. 16, 2015, at her home. Thompson used the drone in Montana during filming for a documentary. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

SIU graduate Nathan Wambold — a certified small unmanned aircraft system remote pilot for drone operations and consulting company OurFocus — said this new trade is still being developed.

Because drones are essentially flying cameras, Wambold said, they can be used for nearly any industry. Small, unmanned aircraft systems are a fraction of the cost of helicopters, and can get images that experts can analyze.

For example, a drone could inspect a malfunctioning cell tower and make sure it is safe for a worker to climb up and fix, or it can be used to show aerial views to potential property buyers, Wambold said.

Agriculture is going to receive the largest benefits from the technology, he said. Time and labor can be saved by surveying the crops and targeting problem areas instead of treating the entire crop.

“These are making a lot of jobs safer and more cost efficient,” Wambold said.

The course will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m on Nov. 12 and 13 at the Southern Illinois Airport in SIU’s Transport Education Center. Those interested in the course and certification must register by Nov. 4.

Staff writer Hannah Cooper can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @hcooper_DE.

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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