The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently granted six new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) authorizations – one Section 333 exemption and five Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) – to the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center (UASC).
The Section 333 exemption allows the UASC to commercially conduct UAS operations for precision agriculture; education; environment, wildlife and forestry monitoring; infrastructure inspection; survey and mapping; and research and development (R&D).
The UASC says it will use state-owned UAS weighing under 10 lbs. to conduct these operations. According to the exemption grant, these UAS are the senseFly eBee and swinglet, Event 38 E384, Altavian Nova F6500, Peregrine UAS, DJI Phantom, and MLB Bat-3.
The five additional COAs will allow the center to conduct R&D projects using UAS. On the first project, the UASC, along with the University of Akron, will collect and evaluate data detailing the mapping of native and invasive plant life in the Panzer Wetlands area of Akron, Ohio. On the second project, the center will work with the University of Cincinnati to research UAS platform and sensor development for assisting emergency responders in the prediction and mitigation of forest fires. This project will take place at the Wilmington Airpark in Wilmington, Ohio.
Two COAs will support the Ohio Department 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 the ODOT to assess erosion of a hillside in southern Ohio to determine the possibility of falling rocks on a major highway.
Another COA authorizes UAS training at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy near London, Ohio, where law enforcement 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 R&D projects across the state in order to help mature UAS technologies. The UASC, a joint venture between the states of Ohio and Indiana, has a mission of advancing UAS commercialization and supporting flight operations for government and agencies.