DRONE LICENSING CLASSES YIELD SUCESSFUL CANDIDATES AND FURTHER BUSINESS CREATION
M. Smith, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter, Pasco, Hernando County; BJ Scharf, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County; KA Taylor, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County; JS Strickland, UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County
Situation: Anyone operating a drone for commercial purposes must possess an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Certificate through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The test that they must pass is called a Part 107 Exam. Our objective was to increase drone prep students’ knowledge of Part 107 (drone) subject matter by 80% when measured via pre/posttest. In addition, the passing rate of the UAS certificate would be 80% when measured by a one-month follow-up survey.
Methods: We designed a two-day course utilizing various instructional methods to teach participants required Part 107 Exam subject matter. Topics included FAA regulations, airspace classification, weather, radio communications, airport operations, aeronautical decision-making, and emergency procedures.
Results: A total of 20 people completed the UF/IFAS Drone Exam Prep course held in Hernando and Osceola Counties. Pre/posttests showed class participants had a 1.02 fold increase in knowledge (n=20). 100% of course participants who attempted the FAA Part 107 Exam successfully passed and now hold an UAS Certificate (n=16). Follow-up surveys of participants were conducted with 10 responding (50%). Of respondents, 90% felt adequately prepared to take the Part 107 Exam after the UF/IFAS Drone Prep course and 70% believed that the UAS Certificate will aid in a career or financial advancement.
Conclusion: The FAA stated, “Non-model activities may require almost 350,000 RPs in 5 years, a three-fold increase, providing tremendous opportunities for growth in employment associated with commercial activities of (unmanned aerial systems) UAS”. Some participants have furthered their business with the certificate, such as an established photographer that has now entered the lucrative drone photography market. One youth participant started a new drone photography business and has acquired a dedicated client in the Farmers Market. With this program, our programmatically diverse team has attracted an audience that is new to Extension.