Drones & Unmanned Aircraft System Policy

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    The purpose of this policy and procedure is to provide information with respect to regulatory processes and operational procedures regarding UAS / Drone operations for the University of Florida. This policy / procedure covers all university Faculty, Staff, Students, and Vendors who wish to operate UAS / Drones as part of their University employment or University Program regardless of location.


    By authority delegated from the University President, the Vice President for Business Affairs is responsible for the safety of all University facilities. Under this authority, policies are developed to provide a safe teaching, research, service, housing and recreational environment.

    Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.


    Any Faculty, Staff, Student or Vendor must obtain authorization prior to conducting any UAS / Drone flight operations while on any University property or in connection with University employment regardless of location or category of flight (i.e. Civil, Public or Recreational)

    The Office of Unmanned Aircraft Systems within Environmental Health and Safety is the single point of contact for any FAA Certificate of Authorization / Waiver / Exemption involving the University of Florida, its Faculty, Students or Staff. All Waivers, Authorization or Exemptions must be approved by EH&S prior to submission to the FAA for approval. UAS shall not be used to monitor or record areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in accordance with accepted social norms. These areas include but are not limited to restrooms, locker rooms, individual residential rooms, changing or dressing rooms, and health treatment rooms.

    UAS shall not be used to monitor or record residential hallways, residential lounges, or the interior of campus daycare facilities.

    Restrictions shall also be imposed on campus locations that are considered sensitive due to research or athletic activities.

    UAS shall not be used to monitor or record sensitive institutional or personal information which may be found, for example, on an individual’s workspace or on computer or other electronic displays.

    Model aircraft use on University of Florida property will be held to the same restrictions as UAS’s and must be approved by Environmental Health and Safety.

    Any violations of university policies and procedures by an individual will be dealt with in accordance with applicable university regulations, policies and procedures, which may include disciplinary action up to and including termination.

    Legal prohibitions regarding physical presence on campus/trespassing and other legal action may also be pursued against third parties that operate UAS in violation of these procedures.

    University of Florida Property: Buildings, grounds, and land that are owned by the University of Florida or controlled by the University of Florida via leases or other formal contractual agreements to house ongoing UF operations.

    Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): UAS are also known as or may be characterized as Drones. According to the FAA, a UAS is the unmanned aircraft and all associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft. UAS may have a variety of names including quadcopter, quadrotor, etc. FAA regulation applies to UAS regardless of size or weight.

    As of August 29, 2016 the Part 107 small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) rule is in effect, allowing flight operations without COAs or exemptions. This will be a Civil Aircraft Operation, but can be done for any purpose (commercial, training, research, etc.) as long as the flights comply with the rule. Flight operations that do not comply with the Part 107 sUAS rules must be conducted under COAs or a waiver issued by the FAA. Examples of this might be larger aircraft or flights above 400’ AGL.

    Unmanned aircraft may be operated (flown) outdoors under one of three categories; public, civil, and model aircraft. Additional information about these categories can be found at the following web link: http://www.faa.gov/uas/

    Public Aircraft Operations (Governmental): This is the category of operation by which government agencies and universities can conduct UAS flight operations for a variety of government purposes. This might include law enforcement, disaster response, or other related applications. It can also include university research. These operations are conducted under a certificate of authorization (COA) that is issued by the FAA.

    Civil Aircraft Operations: Any operation that does not meet the statutory criteria for a public aircraft operation is considered a civil aircraft operation. The FAA previously established an exemption process (referred to as a Section 333 exemption) that allowed commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments. On August 29, 2016, a new set of regulations, commonly referred to as the small UAS rule (Part 107), went into effect. These regulations provide a new legal basis for flying small UAS in low risk scenarios.

    Model Aircraft Operations: Model aircraft operations can be conducted for hobby or recreational purposes only. In many cases the model aircraft might be physically the same or similar to those flown under Public or Civil Operations, but it is the intended use that determines the type of operation. UAS flight operations conducted for research purposes by a University employee or student could not be conducted under hobbyist model aircraft rules.

    Operations Not Involving Outdoor Flights: The use of unmanned aircraft for research activities not involving outdoor flights is not regulated by the FAA. Any indoor operations involving UAS must be permitted through Environmental Health and Safety.

    All members of the University community are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and university policies. UAS activity including hobby, indoor, outdoor, testing, training, and research will be required to comply with this policy.

    Any university employee, student, or unit purchasing a UAS (or the parts to assemble a UAS), or UAS services with university funds or funds being disbursed through a university account, or grant funds, must comply with the FAA rules and shall secure the necessary authorization from the FAA and Environmental Health and Safety.

    Third-Party and Hobby/Recreational - Any third party or hobbyist wishing to use a UAS over University property or on behalf of the University must first receive approval through the office of UAV Programs with Environmental Health and Safety. Operators must provide proof of insurance and evidence of compliance with FAA certifications.

    FAA Part 107
    The set of requirements that must be followed are described in 14 CFR Part 107. In addition, an Advisory Circular AC 107-2 was issued by the FAA to provide guidance information for compliance with Part 107. An abbreviated list of some of the requirements includes the following:

    • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg)
    • The aircraft must be operated within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only.
    • May not operate over any persons not directly participating in the flight operation.
    • Daylight-only operations.
    • The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:
    1. Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and
      2. Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure's immediate uppermost limit.
    • Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from the ground control station.
    • person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who holds a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command).
    • The remote pilot in command must conduct a preflight inspection.
    • A person may not act as a remote pilot in command for more than one unmanned aircraft at one time.

    University of Florida
    In addition to the required FAA regulations, the University procedure for authorization outlined below must be followed.

    • Complete and submit an online request for authorization. (EH&S Registration)
    • Provide documentation of liability insurance if applicable.
    • Provide Remote Pilot Certificate credentials.
    • Provide aircraft registration information.
    • Provide FAA Waiver for operations outside of Part 107.