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Faculty Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

While faculty may not commonly be the primary operator of an Unmanned Aircraft System, they are responsible for adhering to both Federal Law and UC Policies regarding their usage.

Minimum Requirements:

  • UAS Registration (Non-Recreational)
  • Sport or Private Pilot Certificate
  • Section 333 Exemption and/or
  • Certificate of Authorization

Research Projects

Research projects, including student dissertation or thesis work, are not considered recreational and require authorization under either a Section 333 Exemption or a Public Agency COA. The Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety is the point of contact for anyone wishing to fly UASs for non-recreational purposes and will determine the requirements, and if necessary, file a petition to the FAA, to enable the desired flight operations.

Public Purpose Research Projects

For public agencies with public aircraft for specific public purposes, an alternative authorization process known as a Public Agency COA is available.  This process is the most flexible as applicants are able to petition for any operation, regardless of location, flight altitude or other considerations. However, it is restricted to "aeronautical research or biological or geological resource management" (49 U.S. Code § 401259(a)(2) ). Operations under this special authorization require coordination with the Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety

Courses in which UASs may be used

Unmanned Aircraft Systems may be used in conjunction with coursework or a senior project.  However the faculy and teaching assistants may only provide minimal assistance in the flying of the actual vehicles.  This is limited to assistance to vehicle control and launch/recovery operations.