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12 november 2020

MBO College Airport starts secondary vocational training activities at Unmanned Valley

MBO College Airport to start first three-year drone course in the Netherlands

Leading Dutch secondary vocational school MBO College Airport aims to develop into a fully-fledged recruitment center for the drone industry and companies that use drones in their business activities. At the beginning of 2021, the school will therefore move its drone activities to Unmanned Valley – the field lab for sensor-based technologies located at the former Valkenburg naval air base, 16 kilometers north of The Hague in the Netherlands. A generic three-year drone education course will start at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. This makes MBO College Airport the first secondary vocational college in the Netherlands to offer such a course.

MBO College Airport, part of the Regional Education Center of Amsterdam-Flevoland, has been training aircraft engineering students since 1936. Since 2017, students have been able to specialize themselves through elective courses drone technology and applications. Each year approximately 200 students of aircraft technology, ICT application development and media follow these electives.
MBO College Airport has recently also been certified by the Dutch government as a Registered Training Facility1) and ROC Operator. As a result, the school is authorized to train students to become professional drone pilots and they are allowed to perform commercial assignments, including experimental drone operations.

Unique training opportunities
“Drones have become indispensable in many sectors and with continuous technological developments, the amount of innovative drone applications will increase sharply in the coming years. We already notice a growing need for well-trained professionals and therefore want to evolve the current training activities into a fully-fledged three-year drone education course, which will be a first for the Netherlands. Operating in the aviation domain, MBO College Airport is ideally suited to deliver this course”, says Ivo van Oosterhout, Director of Operations & Innovation at MBO College Airport.

“We are strongly committed to co-creation so students have the best qualifications when they graduate. The move to Unmanned Valley is therefore logical and I expect our education activities will get a huge boost. The opportunities at Unmanned Valley are unique: the collaboration with different kinds of companies, the link between theory and practice, everything related to the design, construction, programming and maintenance of drones can be addressed as well as the ability to carry out drone operations. Our course will become more relevant, realistic and challenging, and in line with this we will contribute to the social acceptance of professional drone usage.”

Craftsmen essential for developing drone innovations
MBO College Airport has a strong focus on cross-fertilization and interaction with the professional field. Teachers and students want to be part of the latest technological developments and applications. With the arrival of MBO College Airport, we broaden our connection with public education and we bring the employees of the future here. This is good for the Unmanned Valley ecosystem and the Dutch drone sector”, says Theo de Vries, program manager at Unmanned Valley.

“Innovation happens where people meet, stimulate each other and collaborate. Well-trained craftsmen are of great importance in this. With their brains and hands they can make a significant difference to innovative strength. On the one hand because of their contribution to the development of innovative technologies and applications, on the other hand because they are working with innovative drone applications in all kinds of sectors.”

Unmanned Valley is an initiative of Delft University of Technology and the municipality of Katwijk – made possible by the Dutch central and regional government as well as the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – and will develop into a breeding ground for high-tech activities. The first drone and aerospace companies have already moved to Unmanned Valley.


1) At present, in the Netherlands 7 companies are recognized by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) as Registered Training Facility (RTF). MBO College Airport is the only secondary vocational school that is RTF-certified.