HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Aviators from across the country attended a Small Unmanned Aircraft Safety Qualification Course (SUASQC) at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville October 28.
Completion of the course qualifies attendees to operate Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems within the standards of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aviation policy.
Prior to their acceptance into the SUASQC, attendees were required to complete the Basic Unmanned Qualifications course (BUQ) and hold an unmanned pilot’s license for flying public use, non-standard unmanned aircraft systems.
The course covered key elements to piloting unmanned aircraft systems such as eliminating risk when flying, accidents and mishaps, aviation cyber safety, special use airspace coordination, weather and aeronautical knowledge, emerging capabilities, platform management, and aerial mapping capabilities.
Attendee Christopher Knight, an Army Geospatial Center geographer, said the training will improve his ability to collect, analyze, manage, and deliver geospatial data and products.
“The training helped me be more prepared to operate safely to meet the demands of high-resolution mapping for the Army,” Knight said.
The course also covered the new Management Information System for Aviation and Remote Systems (MARS), a software program used for aviation mission planning, records inventory management, maintenance recording and forecasting, aircraft mission capability and employee flight training records. The software can get an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) work unit mission ready from task to mission approval in as little as three hours, replacing the legacy method which relied on paperwork and took more than three months to get approvals to fly.
Upon completion of the SUASQC, attendees are qualified to fly 55 pound or less, public use, nonstandard, unmanned aircraft systems. Students graduating with these skills are then prepared to receive specific mission training, as necessary.
Course graduates will take their newly acquired skills back to their respective Districts to use in various missions such as the completion of vegetation surveys, analysis of construction areas, thermal inspections, breakwater and dam surveys, and disaster relief and blue roof programs.
Attendee Daniel Taylor, Louisville District natural resource specialist, said the course applies directly to his work for Louisville District’s Operations Division.
“This course will help us conduct inspections of critical infrastructure, fee and title property, and assist during emergency situations,” Taylor said.
Huntsville Center has trained close to 200 students in the SUAS qualification course and due to the success of the class, it is now offered monthly. Although most participants are USACE employees, the course is now also available to contractors.