TSA, FAA bring drone awareness to Connecticut high school

Wednesday, July 12, 2023
This drone flew over a ferryboat in Connecticut. TSA Connecticut Assistant Federal Security Director-Law Enforcement Steve Blindbury partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service to investigate the drone and referred the case to the Federal Aviation Administration. (Photo courtesy of Steve Blindbury)

TSA’s Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (LE/FAMS) partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to bring drone awareness to a Connecticut high school.

East Granby High School Technology Teacher Wendi Meunier invited Senior FAM Ryan Cain and FAA Aviation Safety Inspector Michael Edreich to her classroom to give members of the school’s Drone Club insight into the rules and regulations for safe unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations.

“This represented a unique opportunity to start educating the next generation of drone pilots about the regulations for safe UAS operations,” said TSA Connecticut Assistant Federal Security Director-Law Enforcement Steven Blindbury. “These types of public outreach presentations on current UAS regulations play an important role in aviation security and safety. By discussing the publicized, but perhaps not well-known, rules for safe drone operations around commercial and general aviation airports, we can mitigate the potential for future incidents.”

FAA Inspector Michael Edreich addresses technology students at East Granby High School. (Photo by Steve Blindbury)
FAA Inspector Michael Edreich addresses technology students at East Granby High School. (Photo by Steve Blindbury)

Edreich tailored the presentation he usually provides to law enforcement to make it more suitable for a high school class. He and Cain provided an overview on their respective responsibilities for UAS regulations and enforcement.

“TSA and the FAA share a symbiotic relationship in regard to UAS activities,” noted Blindbury, who also addressed the students. “The FAA devises the rules and regulations for safe drone operations, while TSA assists in mitigating security risks through the Emerging Threats Act.”

He said in Connecticut, most drones flown in controlled airspace are unintentional due to a lack of knowledge of FAA regulations, and remediation is offered to bring recreational and commercial UAS pilots into compliance and prevent them from flying where they shouldn’t drift.

“TSA’s LE/FAMS and the FAA have taken a proactive approach to educate the public on UAS regulations, thereby mitigating the potential for unintentional and accidental incursions,” Blindbury said. “The visit to East Granby High School is just one example of our joint agency outreach activities.”

The technology students were fully engaged during the presentations, asking thoughtful questions. They asked how to become FAA-certified drone pilots and how to obtain authorization to fly their drones in controlled airspace.

“A drone operator must, at all times, use the proper precautions, because they are at the controls of an aircraft,” Edreich told the class. “Lack of attention, negligence or recklessness on the part of a pilot or failing to learn FAA rules and regulations, including height restrictions in controlled airspace, can have disastrous consequences.”

It was a special day for Meunier’s class.

“It’s considered a privilege to take the drone class, and the students certainly benefitted from the small group interaction,” said Meunier. “I was very glad to have the team come in and talk to the students about drones and safe drone operations.”

For their efforts in public drone education and awareness, the Connecticut UAS Outreach Team earned the “Blogger Bob” Award at the 2022 TSA Honorary Awards Ceremony held this May.

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs