Drone Policy

Policy Number: #100

Responsible Executive(s):

  • President

Responsible Office(s):

  • Office of the President

Date Adopted: 11-01-2020

Date Revised: 12-01-2020

A. Purpose

Regis University employees and students may use an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), more commonly known as a drone, in teaching and research. Regis University must comply with federal and state laws and FAA regulations regarding aircraft, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Inherent risks in the operation of such equipment necessitate proper safety practices, additional insurance protections, and requisite oversight and authority for the operation of UAS on Regis University property, at Regis University-sponsored events, or offsite in support of Regis University business, research and teaching activities.

Launching or landing aircraft on university property, or flying over it, creates risks to the institution and community, for several reasons:

  • The main campus is at a heavily populated area within Denver and the population and building density of the main campus is high creating safety risks to persons and property;
  • Aircraft takeoff and landings and the noise associated with them generally create a distraction and have the potential to interfere with instruction and research on all university campuses;
  • Many aircraft require licenses that Regis University itself does not possess; and
  • Aircraft may pose other unacceptable risks to the community including invasion of privacy, unauthorized solicitations, distracted driving, and more.

However, the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can make significant contributions to research, academic and marketing activities of the University. Additionally, aerial photography with UAS can potentially assist in land management, athletics, law enforcement and other support functions. However, the operation of a UAS poses safety hazards to persons and property, and can result in legal liability; therefore, UAS use must be carried out only by those with proper training and authority. Operation of UAS is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Regis University will establish procedures required to ensure compliance with those legal obligations and to reduce risks to safety, security and privacy. Anyone operating (or assisting in operating) a UAS that takes off from, lands on, or flies over University property, or on or over other property for University-sanctioned activities, wherever situated, must comply with this policy.

If you have questions regarding this policy, please contact the Associate General Counsel, at (303) 964-5448 or legal@regis.edu.

B. Scope

  1. This policy applies to the operation of all unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on or above University property by persons including, but not limited to, Regis University employees (including faculty, administrative professionals, staff, volunteers, and all other employees), students, persons acting under the direction and control of the University such as vendors or independent contractors, and visitors.
  2. The policy also applies to the operation of UAS on or above non-University property, in support of Regis University-sponsored or -sanctioned activities.
  3. Emergency landings and landings for emergency support (e.g. Flight for Life) are not governed by this policy.

C. The Policy

  1. Office of Legal Counsel is the University’s UAS Manager. The Manager is responsible for:
    1. Approving the use of UASs by University employees or students for University teaching or research;
    2. Maintaining a copy of this Manual; and
    3. Serving as the University’s primary point of contact with the FAA.
  2. Authorization to Operate an Aircraft (including UAS)
    1. All members of the University community are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and university policies with respect to the operation of UAS, whether the use is personal, recreational, or for University business or research.
    2. Any University employee or student wishing to operate a UAS as part of their University employment or as part of a University program must do so as either a public operation under a Section 333 exemption and Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) issued by the FAA, or a civil operation under Part 107. For public operations, the University will designate an FAA account holder under a Section 333 exemption and will maintain a blanket COA for Regis University, or the operator may obtain a separate COA and provide a copy to the Office of Legal Counsel. All UAS operations must be approved in advance by the UAS Manager for the University.
    3. For all civil operations under Part 107:
      1. Authorization to fly will be given by the UAS Manager after completion of all required insurance documentation and proof of compliance with Part 107 pre-flight requirements including 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). and subject to immediate takeover of flight controls by the certified pilot. More information about Part 107 requirements is available from the Office of Legal Counsel. Also see the FAA Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule referenced below.
      2. Operators must comply with all Part 107 requirements and restrictions, as listed in the FAA’s Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107), except to the extent that a waiver is granted by the FAA for any of these restrictions. Not all restrictions can be waived, but waivers may be requested for:
        1. Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25)*
        2. Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
        3. Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31)*
        4. Visual observer (§ 107.33)
        5. Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
        6. Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
        7. Operation over people (§ 107.39)
        8. Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
        9. Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51)
    4. No waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    5. For any University activity using UAS use in a foreign country, and when foreign nationals are involved in any University activity using UAS, the Office of Legal Counsel and the Export Control Officer (ECO) will assist in determining legal requirements and verifying that requirements have been met.
    6. 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, including grant funds, must contact the Office of Legal Counsel in order to assess the University’s ability to obtain a COA, other necessary FAA exemptions, or meet other applicable compliance requirements.
    7. Recreational or hobbyist use of UAS or model aircraft on or over University property, not for a University-sponsored academic, research, or business purpose, is not permitted except for Registered Student Organization use as discussed below. On occasion, however, a UAS may be used in connection with a course or project, where the operator is a student under the supervision of an instructor. In such cases, the use may qualify as hobbyist/recreational use and must comply with applicable FAA regulations for such use. Pursuant to FAA guidance issued May 4, 2016, faculty members may assist students with such uses, provided that:
      1. No compensation is received by anyone in connection with the flight operation;
      2. The student primarily retains operational control, the faculty member has all required FAA certifications and permissions to operate the UAS, and the faculty member’s manipulation of the aircraft is incidental and secondary to the student’s (e.g., the faculty member steps in to regain control in the event the student begins to lose control, to terminate the flight, etc.);
      3. The student is not operating the UAS primarily for the benefit of, or as a substitute for, the faculty member when the faculty member does not have a Certificate of Authorization to operate the UAS; and
      4. iv. The primary purpose of the course is not UAS flight instruction; this is only one part of the curriculum.
    8. Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) in good standing may obtain University approval for operations of a UAS on University property. The UAS must be properly registered with the FAA and be labeled with the assigned UAS registration number. Operation of the UAS must comply with law at all times. The restrictions and requirements for operation as set forth below, will apply to UAS operation by RSOs. RSOs should contact the Office of Legal Counsel, telephone 303-964-3656, email legal@regis.edu, a minimum of two weeks prior to the anticipated operation of the UAS.
  3. Restrictions and Requirements for Operation
    1. In operating a UAS for purposes of recording or transmitting visual images, operators must take all reasonable measures to avoid violations of areas normally considered private. Use of UAS must comply with any other applicable University policies. Use of UAS for video or electronic surveillance must comply with the Regis University Policy on Video and Electronic Surveillance. All uses of UAS must comply with following:
      1. Do not use a UAS 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 the interior of any building or anything seen through a building window. Flight/photography adjacent to campus residential facilities, apartments, and residence halls is not permitted.
      2. Do not operate or participate in the use of a UAS while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or in a reckless or careless manner.
      3. Unless express permission is received from BOTH the FAA and UAS Manager, a UAS shall not be operated directly over persons who are non-participants in the flight operations.
      4. Do not fly a UAS beyond line of sight. Use of a Visual Observer is permitted in accordance with the applicable regulation, however, use of a Visual Observer does not relieve the Remote Pilot in Command (“Remote PIC”) and any other person operating the flight controls of the responsibility to maintain a clear VLOS at all times.
      5. Do not fly a UAS inside a building, or use it to see inside a building. Exceptions may be authorized by the Office of Legal Counsel.
      6. Law enforcement officers conducting UAS flight for law enforcement purposes are exempt from 7(a) and 7(e), but must comply with all other applicable FAA regulations.
    2. Operation of a non-owned UAS requires approval from the Office of Legal Counsel. All non-owned UAS operators must provide liability insurance in the type and amount prescribed by the Office of Legal Counsel, along with proof of FAA certification.
    3. Requests to launch, fly and/or land UAS on University property will be reviewed based on the following criteria:
      1. Relationship to a specific University program or approved activity;
      2. Justification of need to take off or land on campus as opposed to local aircraft support facilities;
      3. Whether or not the operator(s) have all required licenses, permits and clearances to operate the aircraft as proposed;
      4. Whether or not appropriate insurance coverage is in place, in acceptable types and amounts, proof of which has been provided to the university; and
      5. Any other factor deemed pertinent by Facilities and/or the Office of Legal Counsel.
    4. Full details of the request to take off, land, or fly an aircraft over University property must be received by the Physical Plant and Campus Safety not less than 14 days prior to the requested takeoff, flight or landing.
    5. A Contractor’s operation of a UAS requires a contractual relationship in the form attached hereto. All non-owned UAS operators must provide liability insurance in the type and amount described in the contract along with proof of FAA certification.
  4. Place and Time of Flights; Scheduling
    1. The University will designate areas where flight operations are permitted when scheduled and approved in advance. Availability of designated areas will vary according to the nature and purpose of the flight, priority, environmental conditions, and other factors. In general, when scheduling use of Campus or University Property for UAS operation, University research and teaching uses will take first priority, research and associated uses by individuals or entities with an agreement with the University that involves UAS operation will be given second priority, registered student organization use by members of that organization will be given third priority with all other uses scheduled thereafter. Scheduling requests should be sent to the Office of Legal Counsel, 303-964-3656, email legal@regis.edu. A minimum of two weeks’ advance notice is required.
  5. Compliance with this policy
    1. Any violations of this policy will subject the responsible persons to disciplinary action in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures, which may include actions up to and including student conduct sanctions and or termination of employment from the University.
    2. Unauthorized or improper use of a UAS may also subject the responsible persons to civil or criminal liability. Fines or damages incurred by individuals or units for legal violations will not be paid by Regis University.

D. Definitions

  1. Aircraft: Any vehicle, machine or device capable of being introduced into flight, including, but not limited to, fixed wing airplanes, gliders, ultra-lights, helicopters, lighter-than-air ships such as blimps and hot air balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles (also known as UAVs, unmanned aircraft systems or UAS, or drones), model aircraft, and rockets.
  2. Campus or University Property: Land and buildings owned or controlled by the University, including property leased by or on behalf of the University or licensed for the University’s use.
  3. Civil Operations: Any UAS operation that is not a “public operation” (as defined below) is a civil operation. All UAS operations for commercial purposes, including for University business, teaching and research (with some exceptions noted in this policy), are civil operations.
  4. COA: Certificate of Waiver or Authorization. Pursuant to FAA regulations, the COA is an authorization issued by the Air Traffic Organization to a public operator for a specific UAS activity. With the issuance of Part 107 (see below), COAs are no longer required for most small UAS civil operations.
  5. Model Aircraft: Pursuant to FAA regulations, a model aircraft is “an unmanned aircraft that is (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” Model aircraft are not considered by the FAA as UAS and have different regulations. An aircraft used for University academic, research or business purposes is not a model aircraft, regardless of its nature or design.
  6. Non-owned UAS: A UAS that is operated on or over University property as part of a University-sanctioned activity, but is not owned by the University.
  7. Part 107: FAA Final Rule on Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 49 CFR Part 107 (the “small UAS Rule”). This rule governs civil/commercial operations of small UAS (less than 55 lbs., total weight including the aircraft) by a Remote Pilot in Command or under the direct supervision of a certified Remote Pilot. For purposes of this policy, all UAS operations at Regis University are governed by Part 107 unless they are “public operations” conducted under a Section 333 exemption and COA (below). A few examples of operations that may be conducted under Part 107 include (but are not limited to):
    1. Flying a UAS over a Regis University construction site to inspect it;
    2. Flying a UAS for a research project, other than aeronautical research or biological or geological resource management;
    3. Flying a UAS in connection with a class assignment.
  8. Section 333 Exemption: FAA exemption from certain approval requirements based on Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA), which grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS).
  9. Public Operations: A COA is required for “public operations,” as defined in 49 U.S.C. §§ 40102(a)(41), 40125. Examples of public operations include, but are not limited to, law enforcement, aeronautical research, firefighting, and biological or geological resource management. Public operations do not include operations for which the university earns compensation (for example, under a grant or contract).
  10. Unmanned Aircraft System(s) (UAS): A UAS consists of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the components necessary to operate and control the UAV. UAS are often referred to as drones. According to the FAA, a UAS is the unmanned aircraft and all of the 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 regulations apply to UAS regardless of size or weight. A “small UAS” qualifying for operation pursuant to Part 107 consists of a small unmanned aircraft (which, as defined by statute and regulation, is an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds including everything that is onboard) and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft.

E. Related Policies, Procedures, Forms and Other Resources

  1. Related Policies
  2. Procedures
  3. Forms
  4. Guidelines
  5. Other Resources (i.e., training, secondary contact information)
  6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

F. End Notes