November 15, 2016

Drone operator certification course set for January

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is again offering a two-day course that will allow drone operators to gain Federal Aviation Administration certification to operate unmanned aircraft systems. 

The course is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 14-15, at the Transportation Education Center at the Southern Illinois Airport. The registration deadline is Jan. 6. Registration is $500 and covers the certification course, FAA knowledge test, and lunch both days of the workshop. Registration options and more information are available at

There were 16 participants in the first two-day course earlier this month. The interest prompted a waiting list for the next session, Michael F. Robertson, associate professor in aviation management and flight, said. 

“The first session went extremely well. Everyone seemed pleased and so far everyone has passed the test for certification,” he said. 

FAA regulations put in place last year 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, Robertson said. 

The FAA began issuing drone pilot licenses to commercial operators in August. Reports are the FAA forecasts there will be more than 1.3 million licensed drone pilots by 2020. One of 25 FAA-approved drone test centers in Illinois, SIU Carbondale is the only four-year public university that offers the program. 

Course instructors are Robertson and Bryan Harrison, associate professors; and Steven Goetz, assistant professor in aviation management and flight; Harry Fanning, lecturer; and Charles Rodriguez, visiting lecturer, aviation technologies; and John K. Bro, flight instructor. 

For more information, contact Goetz at or Jackie Welch in Conference and Scheduling at 453-5672 or