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Certification program distinguishes individuals and organizations demonstrating a higher level of training, knowledge, and safety.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) launched the Trusted Operator Program (TOP), a new certification program available to remote pilots and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) training organizations. Through TOP, operators and organizations can distinguish themselves in a growing marketplace by holding themselves to a higher standard of safety and professionalism.

“The TOP certification process results in an AUVSI-sponsored seal of approval for individuals and organizations who demonstrate a higher level of training, knowledge, and commitment to safety that goes above and beyond the FAA’s requirements,” said Tracy Lamb, vice president of regulatory and safety affairs and chief pilot of AUVSI. “Someone looking to hire a UAS operator to take images of property, inspect a roof, or survey infrastructure can look for TOP-certified operators and be assured they have the knowledge and experience to operate safely and proficiently.”

TOP uses safety standards developed by accredited standards bodies, international safety experts, and aviation regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), other regulatory authorities, and associations to certify a UAS operator’s proficiency and ability to operate safely and the commitment of training organizations to following a more comprehensive set of protocols.

AUVSI developed the TOP after collaboration through the TOP Steering Committee, a group of more than 197 subject-matter experts and industry leaders from more than 50 organizations across the globe. Their input helped develop three levels of TOP certification, each tailored to reflect different levels of safety resilience, skills, qualifications, and knowledge:

  • Level one covers low-risk operations under the FAA’s small UAS rule (Part 107), such as flights during the day, below 400 feet, and away from people.
  • Level two is for operators who require a Part 107 waiver, a visual observer or sensor operator, or those who fall outside the Part 107 regulation.
  • Level three provides standards for operating in “safety critical” areas, such as near chemical, oil, gas, or nuclear facilities, extended line of sight, pipeline, powerline, and cell tower inspections.

Once operators receive certification, AUVSI will list them in a searchable TOP Registry, where those looking to find and hire a qualified UAS operator can easily find a TOP-certified operator for their needs.

For more information about the TOP, visit www.auvsi.org/topoperator.


Information provided by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (www.auvsi.org).

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