- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Flight training schools have taken a tip from the Federal Aviation Administration’s estimates that 10,000-plus commercial drones will be operational in the United States in the next few years, and bolstered their course selection. Even community colleges now offer training on remote piloting, NBC reports.

The hold-up to drone use outside the military is the lack of regulatory control; however, the FAA is expected to release its policy for commercial drone flights by 2015. Once that occurs, the industry will explode and thousands of drones will fly the U.S. skies within five years, some project.

What’s needed is drone pilot training. NBC reports that only three schools offer full degrees in drone piloting — but that 358 other institutions of learning, including universities and community colleges, offer certificate training and permit programs. The FAA oversees the training, which is targeted primarily for police departments in high crime areas, NBC found.

“We make it clear from the beginning that we are civilian-focused,” said Alex Mirot, an assistant professor at Embrey-Riddle, in charge of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science program, in an NBC report.

Law enforcement has yet to obtain the legal right to fly drones over populated areas. Mostly, police departments are buying them in preparation for the issuance of FAA guidelines that will allow for flights over neighborhoods and communities.

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