Careers at Virginia Tech

UAS Safety Researcher

Apply now Job no: 520057
Work type: Research Faculty
Senior management: Vice President for Research
Department: ICTAS
Location: Blacksburg - Main Campus
Categories: Research / Scientific

Job Description

The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) plays a crucial role in advancing UAS integration into the airspace and adoption by industry. We are in the unique position of leading both an FAA-designated UAS Test Site and a highly productive team in the federal UAS Beyond Program. Through those programs and others, we blaze new ground for advanced UAS operations on a daily basis through innovative research and testing, and we’ve built a track record of conducting first-of-their-kind operations that move the industry forward. Our experienced team works closely with industry and government stakeholders to enable new applications for drones such as package delivery, damage assessment, and infrastructure inspection; through that work, we’ve pioneered a process for the development of risk-based safety cases that is rapidly becoming an industry standard. And because we are part of Virginia Tech, all our staff enjoy the university’s benefits package—as well as the many advantages of living in Blacksburg, Virginia, recognized by Livability Journal as one of 2018’s “Top 100 Best Places to Live.”
The primary role of the UAS Safety Researcher is to provide safety case support to the Technical Project Managers and teams assembled to conduct safety case development for projects supported by the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS Test Site. The UAS Safety Researcher is responsible for working with industry and governmental partners, as well as internal technical professionals, in the identification, documentation, and control of hazards as well as validation of mitigations that will lead to specific operational capabilities for FAA waivers. The UAS Safety Researcher will also oversee the safety of UAS flight operations in support of safety case mitigation validation efforts. The incumbent will develop, maintain, and improve upon the safety management processes and documentation that supports safety case development. The UAS Safety Researcher will report to the MAAP Flight Operations Manager.
The successful candidate will be a self-starter and have strong interpersonal, communications, and organizational skills. The UAS Safety Researcher is also expected to be a team player that is willing to take on and solve challenging problems while working with a diverse team.
Additional responsibilities include the following:
• Sustaining knowledge of changes associated with FAA, ICAO, and EASA Safety and Risk Management concepts and regulations.
• Oversee the development and maintenance of Risk Assessment processes.
• Provide safety case and documentation support for 14 CFR waivers and exemptions.
• Support development and management of FAA Certifications of Authorizations (COAs) for research efforts.
• Provide aviation and safety subject matter expertise to a broad range of customers and backgrounds.
• May occasionally serve as a UAS pilot or safety officer in support of research efforts.

Required Qualifications

• Master’s degree in an aviation, safety management, engineering, or technical related field. An exception can be made for a Bachelor’s degree with significant training and/or experience in aviation or safety management.
• Demonstrated thorough knowledge of aviation safety concepts and policy, Federal Aviation Regulations, and interpretation and application of those policies and regulations.
• Experience in Safety Management Systems (SMS) or Operational Risk Management (ORM) programs.

Preferred Qualifications

• Leadership experience in Safety Management Systems (SMS) or Operational Risk Management (ORM) programs
• Education or experience with statistics
• FAA Private Pilot Certificate or greater
• Experience with academic, government or military aviation UAS operations
• Experience conducting research in a field environment
• FAA Remote Pilot-in-Command Certificate
• Experience and knowledge of operating UAS

Appointment Type


Salary Information

Commensurate with experience

Review Date

April 29, 2022

Additional Information


The successful candidate will be required to have a criminal conviction check.


About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or military status, or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or on any other basis protected by law.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Lisa Stables at during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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