AUSTIN – A new credentialing program for civilian operators of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) was announced by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation (LSUASC) this week at the Texas UAS Summit & Expo in Austin.
The program is aimed at individual operators and small UAS service providers nationwide who have obtained a Section 333 exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate in the national airspace system. The first two companies to complete the rigorous credentialing testing are Aviation Unmanned headquartered in Dallas and HUVRDATA based in Austin.
“The goal of the program is to promote safe and legal commercial UAS operations, as well as to provide 3rd party vetting of operators and vendors with UAS under 55 pounds,” said Steve Williams with TEEX.
Completion of the voluntary credentialing program would enable companies to certify compliance to FAA regulations regarding commercial UAS ventures and demonstrate safe flight operations. The 3rd party vetting of Section 333 requirements includes a live-flight audit including full launch and recovery. Feedback on operational and safety procedure enhancements will also be provided.
The National Unmanned Aircraft System Credentialing Program was jointly developed by TEEX and LSUASC, State of Texas FAA UAS Test Site, at Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi.
Operators who complete the program will receive a certificate demonstrating their ability to safely and effectively operate Section 333 exempted small UAS in the national airspace, and the list of “Qualified UAS Vendors” will be published on the Web. They will also have exclusive access to TEEX-LSUASC programs and possible opportunities to support disaster and emergency response and potential access to stakeholders in the oil & gas and energy sector as well as other industry partners requiring infrastructure inspection and other remote-sensing support.
The Texas UAS Summit & Expo is under way through March 31 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. A new course, Introduction to Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), is being piloted at the conference. The course introduces jurisdictions to small UAS and methods for implementing and establishing a UAS program to provide assistance in the public and civil sectors.
About the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
TEEX is an internationally recognized leader in the delivery of emergency response, homeland security and workforce training and exercises, technical assistance, and economic development. Last year, TEEX served more than 173,000 people from every U.S. state and territory and 81 countries worldwide. TEEX makes a difference by providing training, developing practical solutions, and saving lives.
About Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation
The Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC), founded at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2013, was established in response to an FAA initiative to integrate UAS into the national airspace. LSUASC is composed of a team of highly engaged researchers, entrepreneurs and aviation industry professionals. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi led Texas’ successful effort to become a FAA UAS test site, which includes 11 test ranges covering more than 6,000 square miles of airspace from the Gulf of Mexico to the Big Bend region of Texas.
Ana Nelson, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi