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Ohio college approved to fly drones in additional commercial areas for tests, data collection

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DAYTON, Ohio — A community college has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones in some commercial areas.

Sinclair Community College officials told The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1EUZjJj) on Monday the FAA granted the college an exemption permitting it to fly drones in the additional spaces.

Sinclair is the first Ohio college to secure a Section 333 exemption and the second institution of higher education in the nation to win one, Sinclair President Steven Johnson said.

"This is such an important development, because it frees up our research and development efforts," he said. "It frees up our efforts to train our students and also to just to overall develop this industry within our mission."

The college, in southwest Ohio, already had clearance to fly drones in some restricted areas, but the new exemption allows it to fly them up to 200 feet above commercial projects to perform services, test sensors and collect data.

Sinclair also can partner with commercial enterprises for tasks such as inspecting infrastructure, mapping and precision agriculture among others, said Deb Norris, Sinclair's vice president of workforce development.

The college also is building an indoor pavilion dedicated to drone flight with a 40-foot ceiling and indoor GPS access, said Andrew Shepherd, its director of unmanned aerial systems.

Johnson said the drone industry could have an estimated economic impact of up to $94 billion annually by 2025.

The college offers four certification programs and a two-year associate degree in the field of unmanned aerial systems.


Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com

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