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Beyond Visual Line of Sight Waiver Approved for the Lake Area Tech Unmanned Aerial Systems Pilot Program

Posted on: July 31, 2023   |   Category: News
Bvlos Drone Pic

For immediate release.
July 31, 2023

WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical College (LATC) has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the highly sought-after Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Waiver. This significant milestone enables Lake Area Tech’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Pilot program and embedded drone technology to progress to the next level of drone operation. Notably, LATC is the sole post-high education system in South Dakota to have acquired this waiver, allowing students and faculty to conduct complex drone operations and facilitate autonomous flights without human interference.

The BVLOS waiver is regarded highly valuable by the FAA due to its rarity and the challenges associated with obtaining it. This waiver is highly coveted in the drone industry, earning it the nickname “holy grail” due to the eagerness of commercial operators to obtain it and the difficulties involved in the approval process.

President Tiffany Sanderson of LATC stated, “It’s an honor for Lake Area Tech to receive the FAA’s approval for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flight. Our students in programs across campus are now able to learn to fly commercial, fixed-wing drones for applications in many industries.”

LATC pursued the BVLOS waiver with the aim of producing graduates from its drone program who possess unique experience in conducting long-range missions, unlike those typically associated with small drones. The approval of this waiver enables LATC to integrate drone operations into the Professional Fixed-Wing Pilot, Unmanned Aerial Systems Pilot, and other embedded drone technology programs. Students will learn mapping techniques, remote sensing methods, and aerial imaging which can be applied in various fields such as construction, agriculture, public safety, and energy.

The BVLOS waiver opens up avenues for LATC students to actively collaborate with companies involved in drone equipment development, software development, data collection, as well as internships and employment opportunities.