Drone classes under consideration

The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often referred to as drones, continues to grow in popularity across the world. From aerial photography to inspecting farmlands, drones are used for a variety of tasks.

But most drone operators fly affordable, easy to use “quadcopters” for recreation.

According to one report, consumer drone sales are expected to increase “tenfold” by the end of the decade, rising from 6.4 million devices shipped in 2015 to almost 70 million by 2021.

The proliferation of drones has caused concern for the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA implemented new regulations this year for both recreational and commercial uses to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground.

With testing now required for commercial drone applications, Henderson State University’s Department of Aviation is considering offering classes on drone operations and regulations.

“We are looking at doing a UAS class that encompasses all the rules for what the FAA is allowing, as well as a drone lab,” said Troy Hogue, chair of Henderson’s aviation department. “There’s not enough support right now for a four-year degree program, given the limits on drones right now, but we may consider a drone minor.”

The department has already purchased a popular DJI Phantom 3 drone to use if a lab is developed, Hogue said.

Henderson will also offer testing for the required commercial drone operator’s certificate, he said.

“Drone use will continue to grow,” Hogue said. “I can see the day when Amazon.com actually uses drones for delivery, but it will be while. However, it’s inevitable.”

For more information about Henderson’s aviation and professional pilot programs, go to hsu.edu/professionalpilot.