Skies cleared for Wilmington drone research


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SPRINGFIELD, OHIO — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the OH/IN UAS Center’s (UASC) request for a Section 333 exemption under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which allows the UASC to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system.

The UASC will use drones to conduct precision agriculture; education, environmental, wildlife, and forestry monitoring; infrastructure inspection; survey and mapping, and research and development. The UASC will use state-owned small aircraft that weigh under 10 pounds to conduct these operations.

In addition to the Section 333 exemption, the FAA approved five more Certificates of Authorization (COA) for the UASC. Two of these COAs allow the UASC to conduct research and development projects using a UAS.

One of those projects includes the UASC working with the University of Cincinnati researching UAS platform and sensor development to assist emergency responders in the prediction and mitigation of forest fires. This research project will take place at the Wilmington Air Park.

Two COAs will support the Ohio Dept. of Transportation (ODOT). One COA authorizes the training of ODOT pilots, visual observers and sensor operators in an area near Deer Creek State Park. The second COA, allows ODOT to assess erosion of a hill side in Southern Ohio to determine the possibility of falling rocks on to a major highway. The third COA authorizes UAS training at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy near London, Ohio where Ohio Peace Officers will begin flying to assess UAS technology for traffic accident investigations and to promote safety.

The UASC is also working with 14 colleges and universities in research and development projects across the state that will help mature UAS technologies. The potential economic impact of UAS is substantial and the UASC is working with business across Ohio and aims be national leaders when it comes to implementing this new technology. The UAS market is projected to be a $114 billion industry in the US with a potential to create approximately 100,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

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