Preparing the Unmanned Pilots of Tomorrow

Embry-Riddle earns TOP AUVSI certification for unmanned flight instruction

Embry-Riddle is the first academic institution in the world to receive the Trusted Operator Program (TOP) certification from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

Students who complete the required TOP courses will be certified to handle many unmanned aircraft systems’ (UAS) flying scenarios, from wedding photography to more dangerous situations, says Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus Chancellor John R. Watret. “AUVSI has determined that our UAS curriculum is rigorous enough to prepare students for safe flights, even in the most challenging environments such as near chemicals, oil, gas, nuclear [power plants] or mining facilities.”

This program coordinates the most important applicable standards — including Federal Aviation Administration and local regulations and industry standards — to maximize safety, reliability and professionalism in the commercial use of UAS. “We leveraged existing UAS core curriculum to meet the learning objectives necessary for TOP certification,” says Joseph Cerreta, Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus assistant professor.

Because Embry-Riddle will be certified at the highest level, TOP Level 3, these students can be certified as TOP Remote Pilots or TOP Remote Pilot Instructors. “We believe it will have such a positive influence on the UAS industry and flight safety,” Cerreta says. “Embry-Riddle students with TOP certification will stand out compared to graduates from other academic institutions and have an increased opportunity for getting jobs.”

TOP certification courses will initially be taught through Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Campus. It will then be implemented at the Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses.