Kansas State Polytechnic granted waiver to introduce BVLOS flights into curriculum

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Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has announced that its UAS flight and operations degree option is the first in the nation to introduce flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) into college curriculum.

The FAA has granted Kansas State Polytechnic a waiver that allows these operations to be conducted at the university.

“It is a significant opportunity for our students to learn how to fly UAS beyond their visual line of sight because they are preparing their skills and knowledge for the future of the industry,” says Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State Polytechnic.

“They also have a distinct advantage over their peers at other schools who don't have the authorization to do this yet, making them more marketable when they are ready to start their career.”

During the fall semester, two upper-division courses—Advanced Fixed Wing Operations and Flight and Field Operations—incorporated BVLOS into their flight labs.

Kansas State Polytechnic notes that because of the high risk involved with these operations, students' attention to detail and to safety were “dramatically elevated.”

“They first had to review the FAA waiver and understand how to fully comply with its specific requirements,” explains Travis Balthazor, flight operations manager of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State Polytechnic.

“Students also learned new aspects of mission planning and how to best mitigate risk in the field, including using ADS-B software, which monitors other aircraft in their flight area.”

The FAA first granted the BVLOS waiver to Kansas State Polytechnic's Applied Aviation Research Center over the summer before it was integrated into the UAS degree curriculum. The FAA has also granted Kansas State Polytechnic a waiver to conduct UAS operations at night, which also has been added to several UAS courses.