April 05, 2017

SIU to offer course for drone operators

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Slots are available for a course offered by Southern Illinois University Carbondale that allows drone operators to gain Federal Aviation Administration certification to operate unmanned aircraft systems. 

The two-day workshop, Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7, will be at the Transportation Education Center at the Southern Illinois Airport. The workshops are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. This will be the fifth workshop the university’s aviation program has held since November. The registration deadline is April 28. 

During that time, 85 people have attended, including employees from utility companies, television stations and agricultural research biologists. Those attending have come from states that include California, Nebraska, North Carolina and North Dakota. 

FAA regulations put in place in 2015 require certification for drone operators if they will operate drones under commercial guidelines for businesses and surveying. The course will cover all of the subject areas on the test. Topics include airspace, regulations, weather, and aeronautical decision making. 

The FAA began issuing drone pilot licenses to commercial operators in August 2016. Reports are the FAA forecasts there will be more than 1.3 million licensed drone pilots by 2020. One of 24 FAA-approved drone test centers in Illinois, SIU Carbondale is the only four-year public university that offers the program. 

Registration is $500 per person and covers the certification course, FAA knowledge test, and lunch both days of the workshop. More information on the course is at


For more information on the program, contact Michael F. Robertson, associate professor in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, at 618/453-9264 or mrobertson@siu.edu.