Tuesday, August 30, 2016

National Unmanned Aircraft Systems Credentialing Program

As more industries use unmanned air crafts such as drones to inspect facilities, land and infrastructure, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation (LSUASC) at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi developed a program called the National Unmanned Aircraft Systems Credentialing Program (NUASCP) to improve the safety of the skies.


This program is tailored for U.S. commercial
service providers and public safety organizations utilizing small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) who have obtained a Section 333 exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate in the national airspace system. Four companies have successfully completed this program, with the most recent company being Precision Aerial Compliance Solutions, located in Conroe, TX. Precision Aerial Compliance Solutions LLC is an aerial data collection and inspection service dedicated to providing their clients with a safe, cost-effective, and efficient way to gather actionable data for their business.

“Precision Aerial is pleased to be a member of this elite group of UAS operators who have graduated from the NUASCP,” said Scott McGowan, CEO of Precision Aerial Compliance Solutions. “This program's certification gives our current, as well as potential clients, a more informative way to make choices in using and integrating UAS service companies and their capabilities into their own business operations. Safety and professionalism are the key factors in hiring a potential UAS operator and this program makes that process easier by doing a lot of that groundwork for them."

The National sUAS Credentialing Program has been included in at least one Request for Proposals for a large flood control district in Texas.  The district reviewed the baseline program and felt it was a way to have a vetting process for the UAS Service Providers they will be reviewing to award the contract.  This will set apart all others.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website "by law, any aircraft operation in the national airspace requires a certificated and registered aircraft, a licensed pilot, and operational approval. 
Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) (PDF) grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS)". As of 8/19/2016 there have been 5,542 petitions for exemption have been granted and 1,692 have been denied.

Completion of the voluntary credentialing program enables companies to certify compliance to FAA regulations regarding commercial UAS operations and demonstrate safe flight. The 3rd party vetting of Section 333 requirements includes an oral audit as well as a  live-flight audit with full launch recovery. Operators who complete the program receive a certificate demonstrating their ability to safely and effectively operate Section 333 exempted small UAS in the national airspace. 

Learn more about the National UAS Credentialing Program.

By Steve Williams, Director of Operations and Strategic Development with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.