Umanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

University Policy: 
Executive Summary: 

UNC Charlotte recognizes the potential value of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for educational, commercial and recreational purposes. In consideration of the personal safety and well-being of the UNC Charlotte campus community, and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, this Policy establishes requirements for operation of UAS on (or above) the main campus of UNC Charlotte.

I.          Policy Statement and Purpose

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) offer great potential as tools for research and teaching.  This Policy establishes a framework for identifying, managing, and mitigating risk when using UAS at UNC Charlotte, in accordance with all state and federal laws and regulations, and in furtherance of UNC Charlotte’s institutional goals and objectives.

II.         Definitions

When used in this Policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. “Departments” and “Units” include UNC Charlotte colleges, divisions, departments, units, programs, centers and institutes, as well as their designated University employees.
  2. “Indoor” means inside an enclosed space that can be reasonably expected to prevent an Unmanned Aircraft from exiting the space while in flight.
  3. “Large-scale events” are those events as defined in University Policy 601.6, Scheduling University Facilities.
  4. “University Activity” means any activity or use by a UNC Charlotte Department or Unit for the purpose of education, instruction, photography, research, promotion, publicity, or other business purposes, including indoor and outdoor activity.
  5. “University premises” means buildings or grounds owned, leased, operated, controlled or managed by UNC Charlotte.
  6. “Unmanned Aircraft” means a device used or intended to be used for flight in the air that has no onboard pilot.  Unmanned aircraft do not include balloons, rockets, or unpowered gliders.
  7. “Unmanned Aircraft System” (UAS) means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements including, but not limited to, communication links and components that control the unmanned aircraft and are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently.  These are commonly referred to as “drones.”

III.        Applicability

This Policy applies to all University Activities involving the use and operation of UAS.  This Policy also applies to any individual(s) or group(s) operating a UAS for hobby or recreational purposes on University premises.

IV.       Procedures

A. General Requirements

All operators of UAS on University premises, whether for a University Activity or for hobby or recreational use, must comply with all applicable federal and state statutes and regulations established by the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Division of Aviation.

B. University UAS Activities

  1. The UAS Advisory Group, as described in Section IV.B.6 below, shall have oversight of all operations of UAS for University Activities under the direction of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security.
  2. All Departments and Units that intend to use UAS for University Activities shall provide a written summary of the proposed activities to the Director of Risk Management & Insurance (RMI) at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of the first intended use.  The Director of RMI will collaborate with the UAS Advisory Group as needed. 
  3. The written summary must contain the following information for consideration:
    1. Proof of any required license;
    2. Proof of any required permit or authorization;
    3. Detailed flight plan, including proposed date(s) and location(s) of the UAS flight(s);
    4. Brief description of the purpose of the flight(s);
    5. List of individuals involved in the operation of the flight(s);
    6. Any additional information as requested by the UAS Advisory Group;
    7. Certificate of Insurance; and
    8. Attestation that the Department or Unit will follow applicable University policies and federal and state statutes and regulations.
  4. Any substantial change to proposed University Activities (e.g., change in type of aircraft, location, date(s), or activities conducted) after submission of the written summary require additional written notification to the Director of RMI. 
  5. If the proposed University Activities will last longer than six (6) months from the date of the first flight, the Department or Unit must submit a new summary for the University Activities each year.
  6. The UAS Advisory Group consists of at least one representative from the following: Police and Public Safety, Risk Management and Insurance, Environmental Health and Safety, Office of Emergency Management, and Office of Legal Affairs. The UAS Advisory Group shall serve as an advisory body to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security on University UAS Activities. The Advisory Group shall be responsible for reviewing and recommending rules, procedures, and standards for UAS operation to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security.
  7. A safety risk assessment must be conducted by the Department or Unit, in consultation with the Director of RMI, before initiating any operations of UAS for a University Activity. 
  8. Following review of the written summary of University Activities and the safety risk assessment, the Director of RMI may require additional revisions to the UAS flight plan to ensure safety of people and property on University premises.
  9. The operator of the UAS must report all UAS incidents (i.e. accidents, damage to University property, injuries, complaints) to the Department Head, Unit Director, or Dean of the applicable college; Police and Public Safety; and the Director of RMI immediately, but in any event no later than, twenty-four (24) hours after an incident has occurred.
  10. If an individual or Department or Unit seeks to operate a UAS indoors, approval of such operation must be granted in advance by the building manager for the requested space, in consultation with the Director of RMI and the Director of Environmental Health and Safety.
  11. If an individual or Department or Unit seeks to operate a UAS for a University Activity in airspace over land that is not owned or controlled by UNC Charlotte, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University and the landowner must be negotiated and signed prior to UAS use over such land.  The Department or Unit sponsoring the University Activity is responsible for consulting with the UAS Advisory Group and the Office of Legal Affairs to negotiate and establish an MOU.
  12. Any data recorded during the operation of a UAS for University Activity must be maintained in accordance with University Policy 605.3, Retention, Disposition, and Security of University Records.

C. Hobby or Recreational Uses

  1. Persons who wish to operate UAS on University premises for hobby or recreational purposes must provide the Office of Risk Management and Insurance with the following information at least three (3) University business day before the proposed date of the use: 
  1. the name of the UAS pilot,
  2. the type of UAS to be flown,
  3. the dates, times, and locations where the UAS will be operated, and
  4. the names of all individuals who will be participating in the activity.
  1. The following list provides recommended areas for hobby or recreational use of UAS at UNC Charlotte:
  • Recreation Fields - 11, 12, 14, 14a, only if accessible and not under field maintenance.
  • Athletic Field – 5, only if accessible and not under field maintenance (See locations on the campus map.)
  1. Hobby or recreational users who wish to record campus events or performances, must obtain additional advance approval from the event or performance organizer, who will work in conjunction with University Communications. 

D.        Prohibited Uses

The following uses of UAS are prohibited on University premises:

  1. In or near Jerry Richardson Stadium on the day of a football game, commencement, or any other large-scale event.
  2. In or near University residence halls at any time.
  3. To monitor or record sensitive institutional or personal areas, including, but not limited to, personal workspaces, restrooms, locker rooms, and health treatment rooms.
  4. To monitor or record areas of University premises where programs involving minors are taking place, unless expressly approved by the Office of Risk Management and Insurance.

Exceptions to these prohibited uses must be requested in writing and may be granted by Office of Risk Management and Insurance after consultation with the UAS Advisory Committee.

E.        Compliance and Violations

  1. All members of the UNC Charlotte community share the responsibility of compliance with all aspects of this Policy. Violations of this Policy can be reported to UNC Charlotte Police or the Office of Risk Management and Insurance.
  2. Failure to comply with this Policy may result in the following consequences:
  1. Any person who operates a UAS on or above University premises in violation of this Policy may be required to cease operation immediately.
  2. Any violation of this Policy may subject a University student or employee to appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with the applicable disciplinary policy.
  3. Any violation of this Policy by individuals who are not UNC Charlotte students or employees may result in the individual being prohibited from future flights and/or the individual being trespassed from University premises.
  4. Any person who fails to comply with applicable FAA regulations and/or state laws and regulations may face significant fines and personal liability.