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Yavapai College Approved by FAA to Fly UnManned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

unammned aircraft systems yavapai college uas program
Photo courtesy of Yavapai College (

Yavapai College ( has become one of two public educational institutions in Arizona authorized to fly small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), thus allowing the College to develop new sUAS training programs at its Chino Valley center.

Authorization comes in the form of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate these systems for agriculture and forestry uses. The University of Arizona is the only other public educational institution in Arizona awarded a COA.

Yavapai College (YC) now may conduct operations under the rules of the COA. YC is looking into developing new programs to teach students how to collect, analyze and report data to support agriculture, forestry and other industries that may benefit from the emerging technologies.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to be a leader in training tomorrow’s workforce for this emerging industry,” said Stuart Blacklaw, vice president of instruction and student services.

Growth in Agriculture and Forestry UAS Roles

Agriculture and forestry uses for the sUAS technology, along with related employment opportunities, are increasing rapidly. For instance, UAS rotorcraft can thermally scan fields for fertilizer deficiencies or detect heat changes in cattle that indicate when an animal is ready to breed. The aircraft can help forest fire fighters detect changes in fire patterns and potential hazards, and photograph damaged forest areas for analysis and control recommendations.

The Chino Valley campus includes 80 acres of rural property off of Old Home Manor Drive, which meets the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for being far enough away from airports and residential areas to qualify for the research-based sUAS COA.

The college will initially lease a Lynx radio-controlled aircraft manufactured by Swift Radioplanes, LLC to conduct scheduled flights that will collect imagery to be analyzed for training in existing academic programs. The Lynx is a fixed-wing electric motor aircraft with an 8-foot wingspan that can carry a variety of equipment, such as multi-spectral and thermal-imaging cameras. The aircraft will be flown only over Yavapai College property on its campus in Chino Valley. The craft will be operated below 400 feet, under line-of-site radio control.

About the Yavapai College Aviation Program

The Yavapai College Aviation Technology degree is a two year Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS) which prepares students for careers as helicopter or airplane pilots, flight service specialists, dispatchers, flight instructors, and airport managers. The degree also prepares students for the entrance exam into the FAA Air Traffic Control Academy in Oklahoma City.

Guidance Aviation is proud to be the sole provider of professional helicopter flight training for the Aviation Technology Degree, Helicopter Pilot, at Yavapai College. Contact Guidance Aviation to get your career started!

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