Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy

Applies to:

Original Policy Date:

Last Reviewed Date:

Approved by:

All Florida Tech students, staff, faculty,
and invitees

July 2020

August 2021

 

Policy Owner: Office of Compliance and Risk Management

 

Policy Purpose

Florida Institute of Technology will comply with all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, state law, and any other locally applicable laws or regulations to ensure the safety and privacy of all Florida Tech students, staff, faculty, and visitors. This policy illustrates the methods by which the University will achieve compliance.

Policy Scope 

This policy applies to all persons operating a Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the airspace above Florida Institute of Technology property, including buildings, grounds, and land owned by, controlled by, or leased by Florida Tech, including those properties lying outside of the Main Campus. Includes:

  • Operating UAS in any location as part of the University employment or as part of University activities;
  • The purchase of UAS with funding from Florida Tech University, including university accounts and grants.

Policy Statement

The operation of UAS or drones is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the State of Florida. This policy exists to support the use of UAS in research and education; protect the safety of Florida Tech students, staff, and faculty; and provide appropriate oversight regarding managing the risk of UAS operations at Florida Tech. The use of university drones is limited to educational and research purposes only. Recreational use of drones on Florida Tech property is not permitted.

Definitions

Florida Tech Property- buildings, grounds, and land owned by, controlled by or leased by Florida Tech, including properties lying outside of the Main Campus.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under the U.S. Department of Transportation is the federal oversight body ensuring aerospace safety.

Remote Pilot in Command (PIC)- Remote PIC has full control for all UAS flight operations and must have an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating in accordance with 14 CFR Part 107. Part 61 pilot certificate holders who have completed a flight review within the past 24 months may elect to qualify for the Remote Pilot Certificate by taking an online training course focusing on UAS knowledge instead of the aeronautical knowledge test.

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)- means a small unmanned aircraft and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the small unmanned aircraft) required for the safe and efficient operation of the small unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system.

Procedures

  1. Compliance with all requirements shall be coordinated with the Office of Compliance and Risk Management (OCRM) and Security Department.
  2. All use of university-owned unmanned aircraft systems (Part 107) by students, staff, faculty, and invitees are subject to the following requirements and guidelines:
    • All unmanned aircraft systems must be registered through the Office of Compliance and Risk Management to ensure registration and approval by the FAA and liability insurance coverage for operating the UAS. Civil and criminal penalties may apply for failure to register a UAS.
    • The purchase of a UAS must be coordinated and approved by OCRM and Procurement Services to ensure purchasing compliance, compliance with export controls, and weight and wingspan limits for insurance purposes.
    • The use of UAS must comply with applicable University policies.
    • University students, staff, faculty, or invitees desiring to operate UAS in conjunction with a university program on campus or at an off-campus location must:
      1. Abide by the regulations of the FAA and in accordance with relevant state law, as well as all requirements of the University’s drone policy.
      2. Obtain prior approval from OCRM and the Department of Security at least two weeks before using the UAS by completing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Use Application.
      3. Provide OCRM and the Department of Security with the date/time, place, purpose, length of the proposed UAS flight, and any additional information requested on the application.
      4. Operate as a Part 107 Pilot in Command (PIC) or obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) issued by the FAA.
    • UAS operators must always be under the control of the aircraft. They must remain within the line of sight of the aircraft and operate UAS only during daylight hours.
    • Operate UAS no higher than 400 feet and no faster than 100 mph.

Operations Plan

The written Operations Plan must be received 14 days before the planned flight and will include the following information:

  1. The drone to be used including the make, model and weight.
  2. The total date and time of the flight to include start and end times and a backup plan if weather conditions prohibit flight.
  3. Flightpath with an accompanying campus map.
  4. Purpose of the flight – civil, commercial, research, etc.
  5. The identity of the owner and operator with contact information for both, including cellphone numbers.
  6. FAA registration Number/ License # (if applicable).
  7. If the intent of the flight is to collect photography or video recording, this must be stated in the Operations Plan.
  8. Pilot qualifications

The Operations Plan should be emailed to compliance@fit.edu once approved by the Office of Compliance and Risk Management – it will be forwarded to the Director of Security for final approval.

Third Parties or Contract Operators

The use of a UAS by a third party or commercial operator over Florida Tech property requires the pre-approval of OCRM. Florida Tech’s Contracting Office must have a signed contract with third parties approved through Purchasing before drone usage. A signed contract with a third party must include documentation evidencing FAA approval and a certificate of insurance indicating general liability, aviation liability, or equivalent, naming Florida Institute of Technology as an additional insured, and a minimum of $1million in coverage written on an occurrence basis. A representative of the University must accompany the operator during UAS operations on or above Florida Tech property.

FAA Regulations

Federal regulations and policies pertaining to UAS are available on the FAA website (https://www.faa.gov/uas/). The FAA reauthorization bill of 2018 had several changes that impact small unmanned aircraft. FAA regulations pertain to all flights within the national airspace system of the United States. Outside of the U.S., UAS operations are subject to the rules and regulations of those jurisdictions.

All pilots conducting flights for business purposes, whether invitee or University affiliate, must have a Remote Pilot License as stipulated by the FAA’s Part 107 guidelines.

FAA Information for Commercial Operators (https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/)

Process of Obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate (https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/become_a_drone_pilot/)

All drones must be registered with the FAA, regardless of weight. The registration number must be placed in a visible location on the UAS. Register your UAS with the FAA (https://faadronezone.faa.gov/#/)

Prohibited Uses

  • UAS shall not be used to monitor, photograph, or video areas where other members of the university community or members of the general public have a reasonable expectation of privacy. These areas include but are not limited to restrooms, locker rooms, individual residential rooms, dressing rooms, health treatment rooms, residential hallways, and residential lounges.
  • UAS shall not be used to monitor or record sensitive institutional or personal information which may be found, for example, on an individual’s workspaces, on a computer, or other electronic displays.
  • UAS may not fly through or above any University residential community.
  • UAS shall not be operated if they are uncertified and weigh more than 55 pounds.
  • UAS may not be operated in any way that would create a public safety hazard, an undue hazard to persons or property or to privacy, or in such a way that unduly or negatively affects the environment of those on campus.
  • UAS may not be operated during inclement weather such as high winds or reduced visibility that would jeopardize operational control.
  • Users may not fly a UAS under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Responsibilities

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

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 the Office of Compliance and Risk Management.

The Office of Compliance and Risk Management and Security Department is responsible for the following:

  • Publishing University protocols specifically related to scheduling flights and acquiring authorization to operate UAS.
  • Evaluating requests for the operation of UAS on University property in accordance with any public safety-related concerns for specific flight requests.
  • Investigating reports of UAS-involved property damage, personal injury, concerns, or other matters with proper notification and/or deferral to outside agencies as appropriate. Making referrals of violations of this policy and applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, as appropriate.

Enforcement (if applicable)

  • The use of drones raises significant safety and privacy concerns. Violations of federal and state laws regulating their use can result in substantial legal penalties for the University and the operator.
  • Violations of this policy will be addressed pursuant to applicable University policies, regulations, 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.
  • The University will reserve the right to review and confiscate any photographs or video captured by a UAS over University property, and/or in violation of this policy.
  • Fines or damages incurred by individuals that do not comply with this policy will not be paid from Florida Tech and will be the responsibility of those persons involved.
  • For Third Parties and Contract Operators, the University will bear no responsibility for violation of FAA regulations or state law by the authorized operator and the operator will be required to sign an agreement promising to indemnify, defend, and hold the University harmless.