Kansas State University Polytechic Campus has long been a leader in drones as far as colleges go — and they just took a huge leap ahead when it comes to BVLOS drone flights.
The Federal Aviation Administration this month granted Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus the ability to fly drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in all Class G airspace nationwide. Most of the nation’s airspace is Class G airspace — it’s any uncontrolled airspace (think, away from airports or other major hubs). And most drone flights take place in Glass G airspace.
Most companies, universities and other organizations with waivers for BVLOS drone flights are limited to a specific area. But this latest FAA waiver unlocks a whole new level of freedom for K-State Polytechnic.
The first waiver along these lines was awarded to State Farm Insurance at the beginning of 2019. Like K-State Polytechnic’s waiver, the FAA granted State Farm — which uses drones to assess damage — the freedom to conduct BVLOS drone flights on a national scale (their waiver is good through November 2022).
The K-State Polytechnic waiver from the FAA also grants the university the ability for a remote pilot in command to fly from a mobile command center. Rather than being out in, say, a field standing near the drone, this really makes a drone more of a drone. The pilot can fly out of the elements of the outdoors, while being able to monitor the drone’s feed, as well as other feeds such as weather, manned traffic and telemetry.
K-State Polytechnic said “flying from a mobile command center allows for a controlled environment, meaning pilots can fly distraction-free.”
K-State Polytechnic has long been a leader in drones. The school is a member of the Kansas UAS Joint Task Force and was the first university in the nation to receive a BVLOS waiver from the FAA in 2018, granting permission for K-State Polytechnic to fly beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot and visual observers in a single location. Kansas State Polytechnic was the first university approved for commercial drone flight training, and they’re the first university to offer beyond visual line of sight training to students. Their students fly drones for a number of situations — including helping out the school’s football team.
K-State Polytechnic also partners with the Kansas Department of Transportation, which is part of the FAA’s UAS Integrated Pilot Program.
If you want to study drones, K-State Polytechnic may be the college of choice as of late. K-State Polytechnic and the Applied Aviation Research Center offer drone training for both undergraduates and professionals, and students can earn degrees in UAS flight and operations, and UAS design and integration.
And there are options for kids too. The university has been offering a drone summer camp this year called the UAS Virtual Academy, training high school aged kids foundational aviation skills, flight maneuvers, safety procedures, and photography and videography basics.