Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus says it has become the first U.S. entity to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) commercial flight training to both students and outside companies.
The Section 333 exemption – not restricted to any one particular application – allows Kansas State Polytechnic to create and conduct an extensive flight training program for UAS operations.
Kurt Carraway, Kansas State Polytechnic’s acting UAS program manager, says, “Our goal is to produce the most relevant and professional graduate possible, and we can now offer an exclusive flight training program that will take the student experience to the next level. Kansas State Polytechnic is essentially setting the standard on how to educate tomorrow’s unmanned pilots.”
The UAS program will incorporate flight training with the current curriculum – building structured discipline modeled after the campus’ manned pilot program. Starting in fall 2016, students will progress through multi-rotor and fixed-wing drone training. They also will focus on integration of components such as autopilots and sensors, as well as advanced UAS employment activities.
Students are required to have a private pilot certificate with instrument rating and will have a specific number of unmanned flight hours they have to procure. Just as professional pilot students can become certified flight instructors, once UAS students reach a certain rating, they can act as an instructor in entry-level flight courses.
“Another distinction of this FAA approval is being able to provide flight training to commercial partners,” Carraway adds. “For almost every industry, there is a UAS application. We’re proud to be able to partner with companies and provide them with the tools they need to integrate this technology into their sector while offering rigorous, specialized flight training operations.”
Those learning commercial flight training can do so through two avenues exclusive to Kansas State Polytechnic. They can train out in the field under the auspices of the nationwide Certificate of Authorization included with the exemption. Students can also fly on campus inside the university’s enclosed UAS flight facility.
The campus’ UAS bachelor’s degree program began in 2011 and has since doubled in enrollment almost every year. The initial degree focused on flight and operations; in fall of this year, a second bachelor’s degree was added in UAS design and integration. Kansas State Polytechnic is also a member of the FAA Center of Excellence for UAS.
In October, the campus transformed from Kansas State University Salina to Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.