New policy outlines rules for flying drones on campus

New policy outlines rules for flying drones on campus

Big Ten Network contractors record video of the Nebraska Union plaza in June 2014.
Troy Fedderson | University Communications
Big Ten Network contractors record video of the Nebraska Union plaza in June 2014. The University of Nebraska has outlined policies to regulate the use of drones on its campuses.

The University of Nebraska has developed regulations that allow on-campus use of unmanned aircraft systems — also known as drones — under most circumstances.

The new policy features specific approvals necessary for the use of all drones operated on campus, including those for research, commercial users and hobby projects. All drone operators must follow Federal Aviation Administration regulations before requesting permission to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle at UNL.

"These guidelines have been established to protect both the university community and UAS operators," said Christine Jackson, vice chancellor for business and finance. "All operators must follow these new guidelines and those of the FAA if they wish to fly a drone on any one of our campus properties."

The policy includes UNL approval checklists that vary depending on three operator categories — UNL faculty, staff or students connected to campus activities; commercial users with a contract to fly a drone for university purposes; and hobbyists flying with no connection to the university.

Campus approvals are slightly stricter and require an FAA pilot's license for commercial and civil users under contract with the university.

All drones must be flown during the day and be within visual line of site of the operator. Drone operators must obtain an FAA 333 exemption or certificates of waiver/authorization and review the University of Nebraska's policy on drone usage. And, the drones must operate with a 400-foot ceiling from the ground.

Both FAA and UNL guidelines ban all drone uses above or near Memorial Stadium on Husker football game days. That ban can be removed if an operator obtains an exception from the UNL chancellor and an FAA airspace waiver.

For a complete overview of UNL's unmanned aircraft systems policy and checklists to obtain approval to fly, click here.


Flying Drones at UNL

A new UNL policy allows drones to be flown on campus under most circumstances and with prior approvals. Basic approval elements vary by user and are listed below.

Faculty/staff/students connected to UNL activities

  • Checklist

  • UNL application

Commercial user (with a contract to fly a drone for university purposes)

  • Checklist

  • UNL application

  • Commercial user contract

Hobbyist

  • Checklist

  • Hobbyist application