March 2, 2021
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The Ohio Department of Transportation is offering free e-learning courses that provide the “fundamental knowledge” needed to prepare for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems or UAS Remote Pilot Certification Exam.

[Above photo by the Ohio DOT.]

The agency noted in a statement that while there are roughly 1.7 million UASs – more commonly known as drones – now registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, there are only about 208,000 pilots certified to fly them.

Photo by the Ohio DOT

The Ohio DOT said that becoming a certified pilot “will provide the knowledge and background needed to safely fly drones and open the door to so many opportunities,” such as surveying and inspections of property, roads, bridges, buildings, and telecommunications structures.

The agency added that those interested those free e-learning drone pilot courses can access them through the Ohio Local Technical Assistance Program website at learning.transportation.ohio.gov.

This is but the latest example of the work by state departments of transportation to develop the use of drones for a variety of commercial purposes.

Photo by the Kansas DOT

Three state DOTs are participating in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest drone research initiative dubbed, the BEYOND program, that is building on the agency’s three-year long UAS Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) that wrapped up on October 25, 2020.

“Drones are going to be an increasingly important part of our transportation system, and we need to make sure our state and our country are ready for them,” explained Eric Boyette, North Carolina’s transportation secretary, in a statement.

“The tremendous advancements we’ve seen over these past few years laid the groundwork for safe and integrated drone usage, and we’re excited to continue this important work into the future,” he said.

On a related note, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently issued a 42-page report that highlighted ways the FAA can improve its development of a UAS traffic management system or UTM for drones.

“[Drones] have potential to provide significant social and economic benefits,” the GAO said in a statement. “UTM, as planned, will be a traffic management system where UAS operators and service providers are responsible for the coordination and management of operations at low altitudes – below 400 feet – with rules established by FAA.”

The agency said the FAA could improve that UTM formation efforts by providing “industry stakeholders” with additional information on the timing and substance of UTM testing and implementation efforts, while also developing performance goals and measures for its UTM implementation plan.

editor@aashto.org

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