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Virginia Tech-Malawi Becomes AUVSI Top Certified Training Provider

UNICEF-Sponsored African Drone And Data Academy To Run Program Training Students To Build, Fly And Maintain Drones

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has announced that the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) – Virginia Tech is the latest Certified Training Provider for the AUVSI Trusted Operator Program (TOP). With this certification, Virginia Tech will train students in Malawi, Africa, to become unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators.

Located in Lilongwe, Malawi, and sponsored by UNICEF, the ADDA is the first African educational institution to train and certify young students on how to build, fly and maintain UAS, also known as drones. The academy is operated in partnership by the Malawi University of Science and Technology and Virginia Tech.

“Virginia Tech has been active in remotely piloted aircraft operations in Malawi since 2017, when we flew simulated dried blood spot samples from a remote health clinic to the Kasungu airport within the UNICEF drone test corridor,” said Dr. Kevin Kochersberger, associate professor at Virginia Tech. “As a TOP Certified Training Provider, we are now taking the next step in making sure our ADDA students know the principles of safe flight from the very beginning of their experience with drones.”

The AUVSI TOP is a certification program that creates a culture of safety, reliability, professionalism and trust among drone operators. The TOP, launched in 2018, uses aviation regulations and safety standards developed by accredited standards bodies and international safety experts to certify a drone operator’s proficiency and ability to fly safely. As a TOP certified training organization, Virginia Tech-Malawi will apply the TOP protocols to its program, and students who complete it also become TOP certified operators.

“By providing drone operators with a standard way to demonstrate proficiency, the TOP is helping ensure the safe and sustainable advancement of the unmanned systems industry – not just in the United States, but around the world,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “Virginia Tech-Malawi joins other organizations in Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom that have seen the value in certifying users through the TOP to conform with industry and government standards for safe and responsible UAS operations.”

(Source: AUVSI news release)



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