AIRT Awarded Federal Grant from U.S. Department of Commerce to Help Improve Public Safety and Emergency Drone Operations

Airborne International Response Team (AIRT), the leading 501(c)3 organization supporting Drones For Good™ for emergencies and disaster response has been awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to support drone operations within federal, state, and local public safety agencies and emergency services organizations.  The grant funding will be used by AIRT’s DRONERESPONDERS program to help implement standard test methods for sUAS developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a way to objectively evaluate aircraft capabilities, focus training with measures of remote pilot proficiency, and support pilot credentialing.

According to Adam Jacoff, the project leader of NIST’s Emergency Response Robotics Project, “The first step toward evaluating aircraft capabilities and credentialing remote pilot skills is to get everybody onto the same measuring stick. That’s where standard test methods can play a key role.  Especially across public safety, industrial, commercial, and even recreational pilots. All need to demonstrate essential maneuvers to maintain positive aircraft control while performing whatever payload functionality is necessary to successfully perform the intended tasks.” 

“Our collaborative research and development effort with DRONERESPONDERS will validate the tests with public safety drone operators across the nation. It should also facilitate mutual aid between responder organizations deployed to large-scale disasters by enabling objective measurement and comparison of particular aircraft capabilities with the associated remote pilot proficiency. The results will help guide deployment decisions and align expectations while improving overall safety within the national airspace system.”

NIST’s has developed a variety of sUAS tests that can be constructed from supplies found at most “big box” home improvement stores and assembled on site as needed.  DRONERESPONDERS will help ensure that interested organizations are able to fabricate the test apparatuses and correctly conduct test trials so the resulting performance scores can be used by any organization to select minimum thresholds of proficiency based on their chosen aircraft, airspace and mission complexities, and the environmental conditions in which they intend to deploy.

“The Standard Test Methods for sUAS developed by NIST are the most applicable and easy to use mechanism we have seen for evaluating basic skill levels of public safety remote pilots in concert with the capabilities of their UAS systems,” said Chief Charles Werner (ret.), Director of DRONERESPONDERS.  “Our focus now will be on helping public safety agencies across the nation both understand and adopt the NIST tests.”

DRONERESPONDERS has selected Katie Thielmeyer, UAS Program Manager and firefighter/paramedic with the Woodlawn (Ohio) Fire Department, to spearhead this initiative.  Thielmeyer will serve as the DRONERESPONDERS Program Manager where she will oversee the integration of these tests nationwide and support various related outreach efforts across the responder community for AIRT.

“I am excited to expand my role with DRONERSPONDERS and work closely with the NIST team to make a positive impact within the public safety UAS sector,” said Thielmeyer.  “This new partnership will provide benefits to public safety agencies and emergency services organizations at every level who operate Drones For Good™.”

For more information on the NIST Standard Test Methods for sUAS, please visit:

About AIRT

AIRT® (Airborne International Response Team) is a Miami, Florida-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that facilitates Drones For Good™ for complex emergencies and major disasters. AIRT is the official home of DRONERESPONDERS, the world’s fastest growing non-profit program supporting public safety UAS.  Our global remote pilot network is ready to #getup whenever disaster strikes. 

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