The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 has become law. This new law is important because it includes an educational provision that allows operations as part of an educational program that is chartered by a community-based organization (CBO), such as AMA, or as an established Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) program for educational or research purposes.
In fall 2019, the AMA Education, Government Affairs, and Partnership and Sales departments met with an official from the U.S. Air Force JROTC at AMA Headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. Several topics were discussed. After this meeting, talks with U.S. Air Force JROTC officials continued, eventually leading to AMA and JROTC signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on December 23, 2020. A portion of the MOU states, “The purpose of this MOU is to formalize the relationship between these two organizations, and to collaborate on programs that nurture and support the growth of aviation education and youth development while being respectful of each organization’s mission. This cooperation will include setting of mutual goals, program development, promotion, and operational review.”
The JROTC is a military-regulated program designed to offer high school students leadership experiences and motivate them through a combination of classroom instruction, community service, extracurricular and social activities, and the opportunity to serve in leadership roles.
If you read through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), you will notice that the JROTC is mentioned in it. After the bill was first proposed, JROTC worked with AMA and Congress on this provision.
“As far as advocacy, having a strong relationship with both the JROTC and Civil Air Patrol (CAP) really furthers our cause,” AMA Education Director Kyle Jaracz commented. “If an issue arises, if legislation is proposed, we have the open channels of communication to address that as a unified front, rather than as an individual entity.”
“While lawmakers are familiar with both AMA and JROTC, joining forces makes us an even louder voice,” stated AMA Government Affairs Director Tyler Dobbs.
The CAP is also a military entity that teaches leadership, aerospace sciences, fitness, and character building.
Kyle, Tyler, and other AMA officials are happy with how the NDAA turned out. “That would have been a major concern in terms of our educational mission,” Kyle stated about the original bill. “AMA and others in the industry worked to remove language restricting JROTC and other government entities from purchasing and using foreign-made UAS.” The original bill included a provision prohibiting federal agencies, such as the JROTC and the CAP, from using foreign-made UAS and UAS equipment in the US. This would have included model aircraft.
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As part of the NDAA, university-level UAS operations, such as University Model Aviation Student Clubs (UMASC), will continue to be permitted within CBO programming or as a standalone UAS program.
According to the AMA’s blog post about the NDAA being passed, “AMA’s success in getting these legislative protections included are a great win for UAS STE(A)M curriculum because it allows for the continuation of educational UAS programming that has been in place for decades.”
If you didn’t already know it, education is an important part of AMA’s mission. As many AMA members have proven, aeromodeling can be a steppingstone to careers in the full-scale aviation industry. Teenagers looking to learn more about the aerospace industry often start with model aircraft through the JROTC or CAP.
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Source: Press Release