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Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – Drones

Unmanned Aircraft Systems also known as Drones are gaining popularity in education, research, safety operations, commercial purposes and recreation. UAS provides opportunities for a wide range of industries including education, security, emergency response, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, healthcare, weather forecasting, waste management, military defense, energy, telecommunications, maritime, Internet, agriculture, air travel, space and many more. Drones offer the advancement of research and innovation in all of these industries.

Due to our close proximity to Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB), flight operations are complex and requires planning and preparation. We must operate drones in a safe manner and must be complaint with FAA rules and regulations.

All personnel, including faculty, staff, and students or third party (contracted vendor) wishing to operate UA (i.e., drones) on Florida Tech property, or as part of the Florida Tech activity must request prior approval and register with the Office of Compliance and Risk Management for compliance and insurance purposes. UA operations are not permitted until approval is granted.  Operator must read and comply with the Florida Tech UAS policy. The policy applies to Florida Tech operations both on and off campus. Violating campus policies can result in disciplinary actions.

University-owned drone flights for Florida Tech operations both on and off campus, require approval when submitting the application. Approval will require submission of a flight plan, including date, time and duration of flight, as well as the operational area. Operator must request prior approval from the Office of Risk Management at least two weeks in advance of the proposed use of the UAS by using the UAS (Drone) Use Application.


All members of the University community are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and university policies.

  • Operator must have in his/her possession a copy of the approved UAS Operations Application at all times during flight activity and present it to Florida Tech Security or university representatives upon request.
  • UAS purchase must be coordinated with Florida Tech’s Purchasing Office to ensure purchasing compliance, compliance with export controls, and weight and wingspan limits for insurance coverage.
  • UAS may not operate over areas of assembly, stadium or populated areas.
  • Operation of a university-owned UAS at an off-campus location is subject to all requirements/laws/policies of that location.
  • Airspace authorization is required because the university is in Class D airspace from the airport. The authorization is based on the location; 400ft and below. Airspace Authorization can be requested using LAANC or the FAA Drone Zone.

Individual Recreational/Hobbyist Use (On or Above University Property)

Per Florida Tech UAS policy, private/hobbyist use on or above university property is prohibited.

*For additional information regarding Commercial Use (Contracted Vendor) responsibilities, please read the Procedure Supplemental Document for UAS

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Procedures

Operator must be in compliance with FAA requirements. UAS are heavily regulated by the FAA. University-owned Drones must be Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) registered. 

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
  •  Airspace authorization is required because the university is in Class D airspace from the airport. The authorization is based on the location; 400ft and below. Airspace Authorization can be requested using LAANC or the FAA Drone Zone.
  • 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.

How to Request UAS (Drone) Approval

Step 1: Download and fill out UAS Use Application.

Step 2: Assemble necessary documents and information.

Step 3: For Contracted Vendor- Florida Tech’s Contracting Office must have a signed contract with vendor approved through Purchasing prior to drone usage. Signed contract with vendor must include a request for a Certificate of Insurance indicating general liability, aviation liability or equivalent, including UAS coverage of at least $1M, and name Florida Institute of Technology as an additional insured.  A General Activities Release must also be signed.A representative of the university must accompany a contracted operator during UAS operations on or above university property.

Step 4: Sign with legal signature as indicated and email all required documents and forms to the Office of Compliance and Risk Management with the subject "UAS request".

Step 5: You will receive an acknowledgment of receipt from the Office of Compliance and Risk Management. Within the two weeks of submission, you will receive an approval or refusal of the request.

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