CAMARILLO, Calif. - New Federal Aviation Administration guidelines are making it easier for university students to learn how to fly unmanned aerial vehicles also known as drones.
In the past, university students could only fly a drone if an airline pilot was present, but new FAA guidelines are now lifting that restriction.
This week the FAA classified routine educational users of drones as hobbyists. This means that students can now leave the classroom and learn how to use drone technology in an outdoor setting.
"We would go to a large enclosed place like a warehouse, and so that is not flying in FAA airspace, and so that allowed us to have a fairly big area to be able to fly, otherwise we used simulators," said Cal State University Channel Islands Student Tim Holcombe.
"This is great news for the University," said Cal State University Channel Islands' Senior Research Officer Jason Miller, Ph.D. "We've been preparing for the day that students could learn to operate UAVs in the context of for-credit courses in an array of programs across our university, and it looks like that day is upon us."
Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management (ESRM) Sean Anderson, Ph.D., is thrilled to see the restrictions relaxed as the ESRM program has a rapidly-growing drone instruction program and houses its Aerial and Aquatic Robotic Research group.
While the new guidelines are opening the doors for students, those conducting academic research must still go through a permitting process.
"Those conducting academic research or working for for-profit companies must still rely upon their special permissions from the FAA in the form of a Certificate of Authorization or a Section 333 Exemption, for example. Or, the institution or business can become partners with an entity that already has a waiver.' according to a statement in the FAA's new guidelines.