A provision in the current version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would greatly facilitate the use of drones for educational purposes.
As the final version of the NDAA nears a vote, issues such as a proposed ban on Chinese-made technology have been negotiated. The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the largest community-based organization (CBO) for recreational drone and model airplane pilots, points to another important provision for the drone industry: Sec. 1087 would further enable drones for educational purposes.
The relevant text of HR 6395 amends a section of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that restricted the educational use of drones, adding sections that prohibit flying drones in elementary or secondary schools as part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC ) would enable. Programs or as part of an educational program chartered by a CBO.
The advantage of enabling the use of drones in a JROTC program is obvious: Drones already have a significant place in military operations of all kinds, both in combat training and in peacetime. Education drones have also proven to be a valuable addition to STEM and other programs, providing students of all ages with access to a wide range of science and technology related topics. When these educational programs are operated under the charter of a CBO, schools and communities can more easily meet legal requirements.
Building a safety culture
The provision opens the doors for the AMA and other CBOs to offer training and education courses that promote safe drone operations. As the FAA and the commercial drone industry are promoting the development of a safety culture for the use of drones, this provision provides a practical way to introduce young Airmen to this culture while training the next generation of the drone industry workforce.
“When the UAS amendment to the NDAA is signed into law, JROTC programs for educational purposes and other primary and secondary school programs can be operated under a recognized organization such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics,” says Tyler Ddobbs. AMA Director for Government Affairs. “This significantly reduces the regulatory effort for JROTC and educational groups, gives them access to a community of experienced pilots and ultimately enables more people to learn safely. The change is great news for educators and young people who will continue to work in high-demand STEM areas as model aeronautics has proven to be an effective tool for instructing and training new generations of pilots, engineers, and more. “
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has authored over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.