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Introducing the first national, standardized training curriculum for UAS operators in Public Safety

Rising to the challenge

As uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS), also known as “drones”, become a fundamental part of public safety, First Responders are increasingly asked to pilot them. Drones provide a unique layer of protection and engagement to mission-critical tasks because they can be on site faster than a person in most cases. This can provide valuable situational awareness to command and control while First Responders are rallying and help determine if other assistance is needed.

Given the importance of training in the First Responder community, MITRE Engenuity has created  Safely Operating Aircraft Remotely (SOAR™), a nationwide, early access program to accelerate UAS flight skills group specifically for First Responders. Today, MITRE Engenuity debuts SOAR at the DRONERESPONDERS National Public Safety UAS Conference 2024.

The SOAR program aligns with MITRE Engenuity’s vision to advance emerging technologies for public good through two core mission objectives.

  • Produce a standardized UAS training program
  • Establish a nationally recognized public safety credentialling program

MITRE Engenuity has also created a partnership with the non-profit DRONERESPONDERS organization through the First Responder Innovation Institute to promote training and technology in this community. It is through this partnership that SOAR has been able to take flight.

A dangerously uneven evolution

UAS are rapidly evolving into a requirement for public safety agencies seeking to conduct operations safely, efficiently, and effectively. However, uniform training to support personnel is either lacking or inconsistent. In short, First Responders are being tasked with increasingly high-risk drone missions without receiving the necessary instruction and maneuverability training that these devices require.

Through SOAR, UAS operations gain a uniform baseline of skillsets and knowledge, regardless of their locality or jurisdiction. SOAR is backed by MITRE Engenuity’s continually growing partnerships with federal, state, and local public safety agencies. Developed through the MITRE Accelerator, SOAR is poised to lead the next generation of public safety UAS operators into high-risk scenarios with the skills needed to accomplish mission-critical tasks with drones.

Eyes in the skies and boots on the ground

The graphic below demonstrates the rationale for this growth in adoption. In addition to operating as the “eye in the sky,” drones can also deliver critical small items such as life vests and rafts. This saves time (and money) for the agencies involved.  

National public safety concerns infographic.

Given these public safety concerns, there is more need than ever for UAS maneuverability training curriculum that is:

  • Backed by trusted partners
  • Produced and assembled by peers in public safety
  • Nationally available
  • Standardized
  • Able to grow through both private and public support

Calling all Part 107 license holders

First Responders and Public Safety personnel deserve to receive enriched training and support resources to continue serving their communities. The SOAR Curriculum includes a flight fundamentals class, but also simulation time and practical testing based on National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards. Completing SOAR gives first responders confidence in safe drone operation to deliver critical benefits they can provide in dangerous areas.

MITRE Engenuity’s Managing Director of Incubation and New Product Development Ajit Kahaduwe emphasizes that the SOAR course includes content that public safety operationally requires: “SOAR really simulates what a first responder would do in typical flight situations for their missions, which is a critical element to effective training. As a result, public safety officers gain strong proficiency within a week of completing the class and acquiring their certification.”

Registration for SOAR’s inaugural course, Fundamentals of UAS Maneuvering, will open soon!

For more information, to join our mailing list, and to stay up to date on upcoming courses, visit SOAR Training Interest Form – MITRE Engenuity (mitre-engenuity.org).

© 2024 MITRE Engenuity, LLC. Approved for Public Release. Document number ME0127.