8.15 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)


This policy applies to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The term UAS, as used in this policy,  means any device used, intended to be used, or designed to fly in the air, which is operated without the possibility of direct physical human intervention from within or on the device. UAS include but are not limited to model aircraft, drones, flying toys, model rockets, or similar devices.

UAS may serve as useful learning and research tools and may enable faster, more effective, less costly, and safer university operations. At the same time, these devices present unique issues related to safety, regulatory compliance (based on the University being located within a FAA controlled airspace), and privacy. The purpose of this policy is to properly balance these issues.

Policy Statement

This policy creates the UAS Committee and sets forth procedures for the acquisition and use of UAS.

University Owned UAS

Regardless of size or intended use, any UAS to be acquired by the University must be pre-approved by the UAS Committee prior to acquisition, this includes UAS purchased, donated, or assembled for any purpose. The UAS Committee shall promulgate rules regarding university owned UAS and may restrict their use. In addition, University employees who acquire UAS for University use or who use University-owned UAS are responsible for complying with all applicable export controls laws. The UAS Committee and University employees shall consult with the University's Export Controls Coordinator before acquiring any UAS to ensure compliance with applicable export control laws.

University Use

This section pertains to all university students, faculty and staff operating UAS at any location (including foreign countries) as part of university research, scholarship, academic programs or within the scope of university employment. 

Domestic Use - On Campus

University use of UAS over university property shall be subject to pre-approval through the UAS Committee.  If the request is approved, the UAS Committee may place conditions and restrictions on any issued permit.

Domestic Use - Off Campus

University use of UAS off campus, where the operation of UAS is supervised by a FAA-certified University employee, who is registered with the UAS Committee, does not need to be approved by the UAS Committee. 

All other University uses off campus shall be subject to pre-approval by the UAS Committee.  If the request is approved, the UAS Committee may place conditions and restrictions on any issued permit.

Foreign Use - All Use Outside of the United States or United States Territory

UAS may not be taken or used outside of the United States except with the express written authorization of the University's Export Controls Coordinator.

Non-University Use on University Property

This section pertains to all non-university uses of UAS for purposes such as recreation, hobby, or commercial by individuals or groups affiliated or not affiliated with the University.  It applies to all individuals, groups, student and other organizations, vendors, and the general public.

The use of UAS, which involves the launching, landing, or operation of UAS from university property for non-university purposes, shall be subject to pre-approval through the UAS Committee.  In reviewing a request the UAS Committee will consider, among other factors, the safety of persons and property, federal and local laws and privacy expectations. If the request is approved, the UAS Committee may place conditions and restrictions on any issued permit.

The UAS Committee

The UAS Committee reviews, assesses, approves and provides guidance and restrictions for UAS. The UAS Committee shall minimally consist of:

  • A faculty chairperson designated as responsible for the overall safety of UAS operations under the University’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization issued by the Federal Aviation Administration
  • University Safety Officer/Director of Risk Management
  • Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety
  • Representative from University Relations
  • Representative from Information Technology
  • Representative from Computer Science
  • Representative from Geography
  • Representative from Business and Community Services

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the UAS Committee Chair, the current chair and committee members are available from http://uas.uni.edu.

Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety, approved March 27, 2018
University Council, approved April 23, 2018
President and Executive Management Team, approved April 30, 2018
[Last reviewed and/or updated: 9/2023, 4/2018]