Soaring to New Heights: Westlake High’s Drone Program Takes Off

Estimated read time 2 min read

A New Addition to Curriculum

In a pioneering move, Westlake High School in Ohio has integrated Drone Technology into its curriculum. The school has received the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate drones on campus, marking a significant step in educational technology advancement.

FAA’s Nod of Approval

Westlake High’s recent certification as a Federal Aviation Administration-Recognized Identification Area (FRIA) allows students to fly drones within specific boundaries on school grounds. This approval makes Westlake the first educational institution in Cuyahoga County with such a designation, joining a select group of eight other schools in Ohio.

Flying Within Boundaries

The certification mandates strict adherence to geographic and visibility constraints. Drones and their pilots must operate within the designated areas, and pilots must keep the drones in sight at all times. The FRIA confines its activities to the school district’s property, providing a safe and controlled environment for students to learn and practice.

The Path to Approval

Obtaining FAA approval was no small feat. Scott Kutz, a teacher in the school’s technology and engineering department, detailed the rigorous process involving multiple amendments and a wait of over four weeks. This meticulous procedure underscores the commitment of Westlake High to provide a cutting-edge educational experience while ensuring safety and compliance with federal regulations.

Regulations and Requirements

Students eager to participate must navigate several regulatory requirements. These include holding a current Part 107 license or passing the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). Additionally, the FAA mandates that no flights occur over people, homes, or roads, and the school must secure airspace authorization before each flight due to its location in a Class B airspace.

A Leap Forward in Drone Education

Westlake High School’s drone program represents a significant leap forward in integrating technology into educational settings. It not only equips students with state-of-the-art skills in a growing field but also fosters a safe learning environment under stringent regulatory standards. As drones continue to play a more prominent role in various sectors, the students of Westlake are getting a head start in mastering this innovative technology.

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