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UAS Exemption Allows for Broader Educational and Commercial Operations

The Sinclair National UAS Training and Certification Center has been granted a Section 333 Exemption by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), paving the way for broad educational and commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations.

The approval makes Sinclair the first community college in the nation, and the first college or university in Ohio, to obtain a Section 333 Exemption. The exemption will support Sinclair's push for an expanded UAS presence on a national level and the opportunity to engage in commercial partnerships. Prior to receiving the exemption, the college was limited to conducting non-commercial UAS flight operations at the Wilmington Air Park and Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport through the use of its multiple FAA-issued Certificates of Authorization (COA). Flights can now be conducted outside of these airspaces within the guidelines of the exemption, which outlines rules for safety, property and privacy provisions.

The Section 333 Exemption will allow Sinclair to conduct commercial training and research and development in areas such as sensor integration and testing. Additionally, the exemption provides Sinclair with the ability to build an expanded commercial focus on precision agriculture, geospatial information, and first responder training.

"This is a huge step for our UAS program, which will allow us to fly nationally and leverage the current blanket commercial COA authorization and additional planned COA applications," said Deb Norris, Vice President for Sinclair Workforce Development. "This exemption allows us to expand our UAS presence on a national level and provides the opportunity to engage in commercial partnerships throughout the country."

Sinclair recently partnered with Woolpert Inc., the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center, and Florida-based UAS manufacturer Altavian to conduct UAS flight operations in support of survey requirements for the state of Ohio. The flights were conducted under Woolpert's Section 333 Exemption, which it received at the end of 2014.

Sinclair's 333 Exemption is specifically for the use of the Altavian Nova 6500 Block III aircraft. The college is pursuing additional 333 Exemptions to support other UAS types and applications.