According to a recent AUVSI report, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now approved over 1,000 commercial drone permits, up from just twelve at the start of 2015. However, this accelerated rate of approval – while good for the businesses poised to take advantage of this emerging technology – poses a critical issue, and one that’s growing in importance, for the nation as a whole, according to John Minor, Provost of Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU), the only University in the world licensed to offer graduate degree programs in Unmanned Systems Engineering.
“The good news is that the FAA has finally streamlined the commercial drone application approval process, allowing companies of any size, in virtually every industry, to leverage all that’s offered by drones,” said Minor. “However, in many ways, the FAA has now put the ‘cart in front of the horse’ in that they have yet to establish any formal education or training standards in order to operate a drone for commercial purposes – so what we have now is hundreds to thousands of operators, FAA-certified to fly drones, without the adequate training or education to do so responsibly and efficiently.”
Minor’s concern is grounded in the fact that the prerequisite to operating a drone commercially in the United States is to earn/maintain a Sport Pilot Certificate, which does not require or mandate any drone-specific education or training – but rather training on any