Drone education programs in schools

The regulatory changes the created Part 107 UAS operations also included provisions to allow students to fly UAV aircraft (drones) as part of their coursework. While the legal interpretation provided by the FAA is rather detailed, the FAA basically allows schools to fly under the same kind of restrictions used by recreational drone pilots. Following the FAA guidelines means that an accredited educational institution or a community organization can conduct UAV flights without prior FAA permission. Key elements of those restrictions include the following:

  • No compensation: No one should be compensated for any activity related to operating a UAV.
  • Fly at schools or community-sponsored events: Community-sponsored events include, but are not limited to, demonstrations at schools, Boy or Girl Scout meetings, and science clubs.
  • By students in an aviation-related course: Flying the UAV is related to an aviation-related course that requires the student operate a UAV, and flying by the teacher or faculty member is only incidental and secondary to the student's flight.
  • Weight limits for UAV: The UAV must weigh less than 55 pounds. heavier UAVs must be certified by a community-based organization.
  • Notify nearby airports: If the location is within five miles of an airport, contact the airport authority and any air traffic control facility of your intended flights.
  • Avoid aircraft that carry people: Flying activities should avoid any aircraft that may have human beings on board, and avoid flying above anyone not directly involved with the flight.
  • Follow the guidelines of a national community based organization: This is the most detailed part of the requirements. The guidelines are from the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), specifically the AMA National Model Aircraft Safety Code. Many of the AMA guidelines are similar to the limitations under Part 107 operations, including staying within 400 feet of the ground, remaining within sight of the UAV operator, .

Faculty or instructor qualifications
While the FAA does not require any specific training or credentials for the teacher or faculty member, it would be reasonable to require that the person who is teaching the class has both demonstrated proficiency in operating any UAV that may be used in the class, and has in his or her possession at least one active FAA pilot certification.

Other drone resources

Drone education programs in schools
http://airsafe.com/issues/drones/schools.htm -- Revised 10 November 2016