Sinclair receives first community college FAA UAS exemption

By Emily Aasand | May 21, 2015

The Sinclair National Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Training and Certification Center has been granted a Section 333 exemption by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that allows Sinclair to conduct commercial training and research and development in areas such as sensor integration and testing.  The exemption also provides the college the ability to build an expanded commercial focus on precision agriculture, geospatial information and first responder training.

“This is a huge step for our UAS program, which will allow us to fly nationally and leverage the current blanket commercial certificate of authorization (COA) and additional planned COA applications,” said Deb Norris, vice president for Sinclair Workforce Development. “This exemption allows us to expand our UAS presence on a national level and provides the opportunity to engage in commercial partnerships throughout the country.”

In 2014, the school opened an indoor UAS training facility, offering UAS students the ability to test unmanned aerial vehicle platforms in an enclosed 28,000 square foot facility, but the approval makes Sinclair the first community college in the nation, the first college or university in Ohio, to obtain a Section 333 exemption. According to the college, prior to receiving the exemption, it was limited to conducting non-commercial UAS flight operations at the Wilmington Air Park and Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport through the use of multiple FAA-issued COAs. Flights can now be conducted outside of these airspaces within the guidelines of the exemption, which outlines rules for safety, property and privacy provisions.

The exemption allows the college to use the Altavian Nova 6500 Block III aircraft. The Altavian platform has a wingspan of roughly nine feet, can fly at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and has an endurance of two hours.

Sinclair says it is pursuing additional 333 exemptions to support other UAS types and applications.

In April, the Ohio-based college expanded its presence in the UAS industry with the announcement of its National UAS Training and Certification Center, which will spearhead a new, first-of-its-kind academic journal focused on the UAS industry. The Journal of Unmanned Aerial Systems will be an online peer-reviewed publication put out twice per year.

“This new journal brings together a significant number of top-tier organizations and talented individuals to create a timely and focused publication for presenting new UAS research and best practices in an accessible format,” said Norris.

The Journal’s peer-reviewing group includes several UAS-focused universities, including the University of North Dakota, University of Florida, The Ohio State University, University of Dayton and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University among others. In addition to university members, the journal’s submission review team includes the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Institute of Technology, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ALtavial, Woolpert and the Perduco Group.

The journal will be free to public access and will include content on air vehicles, ground control stations, communications, navigation, human performance sensors, legislation, training, operations and data exploitation.


For more on the UAS Industry, follow us on Twitter @UASMagazine