Interested in becoming a Remote Pilot?
With limited aircraft and availability, UAS Flight School seats are in high demand. The process for participation in the UAS program may vary from agency to agency, or even region to region. However, UAS agency program leads agree the process starts with communication. The downstream goal is for regions to develop a vision and plan for UAS that outlines the number of pilots each region would like to maintain. That information will inform a training plan to meet the demand.
If you are interested in becoming qualified to operate UAS for your agency, please start having that conversation with your local unit leadership and/or aviation officer. Besides your interest, you'll discuss how UAS can benefit your unit or zone. You'll also discuss what type of time and financial commitment may be required. Discuss and grow what UAS and a UAS program means on your unit. In the end, make sure you have that initial conversation locally.
Local unit bought in!? Great - now what? Participation in the UAS program is generally managed at the regional aviation manager level. So, once you have the local unit on board it's time to reach out to your regional UAS coordinator (or designee). For some areas and agencies this may be your State Aviation Manager or Regional Aviation Manager. Much like Step 1, it's time to discuss your interest and your local unit's vision for a UAS program. Be thoughtful about how UAS could not only help you, but interdisciplinary colleagues and interagency partners.
If Step 1 and Step 2 go to plan, the national UAS program managers (agency specific) are made aware by regional aviation managers of their respective candidates to enter the program.
The information from the UAS program managers is forwarded to the National Interagency UAS Training Program to inform the number of classes and locations. This process occurs only once a year - usually in the spring and will inform the next full training cycle (September - June). If you were successful following the steps above, you may be on that list and will be contacted by a UAS Training Coordinator to begin your preparation towards enrollment.
Prioritization and selection for enrollment towards becoming a pilot candidate occurs every October. The National Interagency UAS Training Program facilitates the prioritization exercise with national UAS program leaders. Once prioritization is complete, pilot candidates will be notified of their acceptance and enrollment into a planned session at least 60 days prior to scheduled delivery.
DOI and USFS personnel must complete IAT Course A-450 for Basic Remote Pilot before receiving certification or any follow-on training. A Part 107 license is a prerequisite for A-450, but Part 107 alone is not an authorization to perform remote pilot duties in an official capacity for the DOI and USFS.
Remote pilots who wish to become qualified as a UASP for Incident Response must complete NWCG Course S-373, Incident UAS Operations. Please do not start a UASP taskbook without successfully completing the UAS Flight School for Incident Operations. Again, please work through your unit and agency leadership if you are interested in UAS.
UAS Flight School for Incident Operations: Two-week flight school which incorporates A-450 Basic Remote Pilot and S-373 UAS Incident Operations. Pilot candidates will learn to plan and execute UAS operations on incidents, capture imagery with agency approved UAS, communicate, deconflict, and integrate into fire-traffic-area airspace, and engage in beyond visual line of sight mission profiles. Graduates will receive an agency UAS Remote Pilot Certificate (card) and become an NWCG UAS Remote Pilot (UASP) trainee. For FY2023, this training is open to federal employees only as we continue to build additional training capacity.
UAS Flight School for Natural Resource Management: Two-week flight school which incorporates A-450 Basic Remote Pilot and UAS Mapping. Pilot candidates will learn to operate aircraft, capture imagery with agency approved UAS, plan and implement automated flight mission sets, and process low complexity data products. Graduates will receive an agency UAS Remote Pilot Certificate (card).
FY2023 course seats have been allocated to federal agencies. FY2024 course planning will begin in the spring of 2023.
Remote Pilots should check FAA, departmental, and agency guidance for recurrent training requirements. Remote pilots are responsible for understanding and complying with training requirements to maintain qualifications, proficiency, and currency.
General Recurrent Training Guidelines:
- Part 107: 2 years
- A452R: 2 years
- RT373: 3 years (Incident RPs are encouraged to complete this yearly, see the WFLP for more information)
Please reference the Wildland Fire Learning portal for additional UAS training information:
OAS has released UAS Training Roles, current as of May 22, 2022