Drones

Woolpert gets its small drones from Florida-based manufacturer Altavian.
www.unmannedsystemstechnology.com

Commercial drones could be in Ohio’s skies sooner than expected, because the Federal Aviation Administration has granted a Dayton company an exception to the current ban on drones that aren't for government or recreational use.

A three-day conference on unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, starts Tuesday in Dayton. This is the third Ohio UAS conference, and the first one since the greater Dayton area was turned down in its bid to become a federal testing site for commercial drones; Mo McDonald with the Dayton Development Coalition says he still expects the industry to grow in Dayton.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Thursday is the second day of meetings at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for small businesses in the defense industry. The event is part of an effort on the part of the Air Force to work more with small contractors; base officials say it helps them stay efficient as the government cuts defense budgets.

Those cuts have been bad news for local industry, which provides the Air Force with everything from computer systems to research to airplane parts—but not all contractors are feeling the same pain.

Large contractors cash in

 

Sinclair Community College has announced it’s teaming up with Southern State Community College to expand and collaborate on its unmanned aerial system program.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, are expected to become a big commercial market in the next few years, and a lot of entrepreneurs have their eyes on Ohio’s farm fields. Sensor technology and cameras on the vehicles would let farmers scan huge areas more easily, looking for mold, pests or standing water, just for example.

Jeff Hoagland, CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition,
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

This week on Under Construction we’re talking accountability: how are public funds for economic development spent and how are they tracked? Dayton Daily News investigative reporter Lynn Hulsey recently found the Dayton Development Coalition isn’t forthcoming with that information. The coalition, which is a nonprofit, funnels millions in government funds to local development projects.

sinclair
Flickr Creative Commons User Sinclair Library

The state may have been passed over as a drone testing site, but a Sinclair community college is moving full speed ahead on the development, teaching and application of drone technology.

Sinclair announced Monday that its workforce development office has applied for two new certificates of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a new unmanned aerial system.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

The Federal Aviation Administration handed down its decision earlier this week that the Dayton region was not selected as one of the six national test sites for commercial drones. The news comes after months of preparation from business and industry officials, as well as Ohio’s political leaders. But Chris Ford with the Dayton Development Coalition says it won’t change the game for the drone industry in the region.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

 Southwest Ohio was passed over as a drone test site. On December 30, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will develop test sites for unmanned vehicles in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia, which the agency says together provide the necessary climatic and geographic diversity for testing.

Some schools across the state are preparing students for a boom in the drone industry once the federal government, as is expected, allows civilian unmanned aircraft to fly in U.S. airspace.

The Federal Aviation Administration has until 2015 to present a plan for safely integrating drones into national airspace. Sinclair Community College already is training students for jobs using the technology,  and Kent State University is doing the same.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Right now, if you can spare the cash, you can buy your own drone—or unmanned aerial vehicle, as the industry likes to call them. You can buy local, too, because the Dayton area is trying to shape itself as a hub for the growing commercial drone industry. In a couple years local companies would like to be using them for agricultural purposes, emergency response, entertainment, even surveillance.

"The FAA really needs to address the procedures and policies associated with flying these systems," says Maurice McDonald at the Dayton Development Coalition.

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