Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics now offers an on-campus training program for pilots of fixed-wing and multi-rotor small unmanned aircraft systems.
The Federal Aviation Administration‘s regulations on the commercial use of drones work to allow the training program’s students to fly small UAS weighing less than 55 pounds on campus, the university said Tuesday.
The regulations, which previously limit drone flights in restricted airspace, require the small UAS to stay within the operator’s line of sight at 400 feet above the ground.
Liberty added the activity will help train students and provide field experience in aerial photography, search and rescue, data collection and other areas.
“Our goal is to graduate students who can start out flying small vehicles and move their way up in the industry and eventually fly something with jet engines on it,” said Jonathan Washburn, Liberty’s UAS program director.
Liberty said graduates of the program will receive full operator certification on a medium-size UAS, instrument rating, a private pilot’s license, as well as an additional operator certification through a partnership with Textron Systems.
Students will have the opportunity to fly Textron’s Aerosonde small UAS at the company’s facility in Blackstone, Virginia.
Adam Leachman, Textron’s Aerosonde project manager, said the partnership works to provide employment opportunities to Liberty students.
He added that the company plans to offer full maintenance/crew chief certification on the Aerosonde system as part of Liberty’s UAS program.
The first batch of UAS program students has completed their Aerosonde training in June at the Textron Systems unmanned systems service and support center.