FPTC flies just a little higher

FPTCFlorida Panhandle Technical College is flying a little higher now that several instructors have earned their Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems certification.

UVS (unmanned vehicle systems), or the flying machines more commonly known as drones, have experienced a huge popularity over the past few years, and with that popularity, a large number of headaches. Unskilled, uneducated and new drone pilots have caused a lot of news headlines, with incidents involving crashes, injuries and even danger to in-flight airplanes and helicopters, and the FAA has stepped in to help sort through the clutter.

Recent changes in FAA regulations have provided opportunities for the public to become certified and licensed to safely fly drones, and Martha Compton, director of Florida Panhandle Technical College, decided that this was an area in which the college could become involved and part of the solution.

The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, has provided for instructors to earn an airman certificate specifically for the use and operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), called the “remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.” A small UAS includes small unmanned aircraft, weighing less than 55 pounds on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft, and most fall under the name of “drone.”

The goal of the certification is to ensure that instructors teaching Unmanned Vehicle System courses, coming to the Florida Panhandle Technical College campus in the Spring of 2017, possess knowledge consistent with the privileges of the Remote Pilot Certificate with a small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), as well as the ability to train others to act as a remote pilot-in-command (PIC).

The courses provide information and training consistent with the FAA knowledge test which measures mastery of the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 107.

FPTC has been working closely with Embry-Riddle and the Unmanned Safety Institute (USI) over the past year to design courses in the safe operation of unmanned vehicles and equipment used in careers associated with public safety, surveying, and agriculture.

instructorsCompton recently announced that FPTC has earned their “remote wings” with several instructors qualifying and ready to go to the next step of teaching the course. “This is just one recent addition to the FPTC curriculum,” said Compton, who is quick to point out that the school offers cutting-edge technological training.

“Our local school board supports us and our budget,” said Compton, “and without that support and funding we would not enjoy as high a placement rate in the workforce as we do with our degree and certificate graduates.”

Florida Panhandle Technical College was recognized recently by the Council on Occupational Education (COE) for completing 40 years of accredited status at the Council’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas in November 2016.

“This technical college is a large part of the fabric of this community, and ultimately this region,” stated Washington County Superintendent of Schools Joe Taylor, “and we aim to give our graduates the tools necessary to obtain well-paid jobs, and more importantly, give our business partners well-trained employees, raising the standards of the entire area.”

FPTC currently offers programs as diverse as Hemodialysis, Licensed Practical Nursing, Welding, Pharmacy Tech, Automotive, Patient Care Technology, Networking, Cosmetology, CyberSecurity, Electrical, Law Enforcement and Corrections, and Heavy Equipment Operator. For more information about this or others of the over 40 degree and certification programs now available, call 850-638-1180, visit www.FPTC.edu or stop by the FPTC Student Services on Hoyt Street in Chipley.