Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy

Last Revised: 
June 13, 2016

The University’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy is governed by Executive Memorandum #31. This Executive Memorandum applies to the following individuals:

  1. University faculty, staff, students, and individuals operating UAS as part of University activities at any location;
  2. Individuals operating UAS purchased with funding through the University;
  3. Individuals hired to perform services involving operation of UAS for the University
  4. Individuals operating UAS for hobby or recreation on or above University property; and
  5. Individuals operating UAS for commercial/business use and/or non-University purposes on or above University property.

A full copy of the Executive Memorandum #31 is also availabile in PDF format.


Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy

Policy Purpose

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also called unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones,” are considered aircraft according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). All aircraft operating in the National Airspace System must follow Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations. Rapid advances in technology provide opportunities for the use of UAS as a tool for education, research, and outreach. The purpose of this policy is to provide clarity and a framework for UAS operations at the University of Nebraska.

Policy Goals

The goals of this policy are to: support the use of UAS in education, research, and outreach within current laws and rules; protect the safety of the University of Nebraska community; and ensure appropriate oversight for risk management of UAS operations at the University of Nebraska. This policy applies to University of Nebraska owned and non-owned UAS when operated by:

  • University of Nebraska employees, students, and other individuals as part of University of Nebraska activities at any location (UNL User)
  • Individuals performing contracted services for the University of Nebraska under FAA civil and governmental use at any location and (Commercial Civil UAS User)
  • Hobbyists for recreation on or above University of Nebraska property

UAS use applications and checklist documents for each user category can be found at the end of this policy.

Policy Implementation

University of Nebraska Chancellors will work with personnel in academic affairs, business, research, risk management, security, and other areas to develop procedures to implement this policy, including additional restrictions, for UAS operations on University of Nebraska owned or controlled property.

Requirements for UAS Operation

UAS Operations by University of Nebraska Employees and Students

Prior to operating UAS as part of University of Nebraska activities at any location, the project leader must complete, sign, and submit the required information to the designated University of Nebraska campus authority and receive approval for UAS flights in support of a specific project. If approved, the UAS operator must follow University of Nebraska policies, state and federal laws, and FAA rules and regulations (https://www.faa.gov/uas/) including FAA authorization through a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), Section 333 exemption, and/or other procedures as required by the FAA. UAS operations outside the United States as part of University of Nebraska activities also require export controls review.

Civil and Governmental UAS Operations

Individuals conducting civil and governmental UAS operations on behalf of the University of Nebraska, including performing contracted services, must comply with state and federal laws, FAA rules and regulations, and this policy including submission of the required information and receipt of approval by the designated University of Nebraska campus authority. Anyone operating UAS not owned by the University of Nebraska must provide a COA, Section 333 exemption, and/or other evidence issued by the FAA authorizing them to perform the proposed flight, as applicable. Such operators must also provide credentials and a certificate of insurance which shows adequate UAS liability insurance coverage and names the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska as an additional insured.

Recreational/Hobbyist UAS Operations at the University of Nebraska

Chancellors will work with personnel in academic affairs, business, research, risk management, security, and other areas to develop policies, implementation procedures, and required documentation, if any, for UAS hobbyist operations on campus and at other property owned or controlled by the University of Nebraska.

Prohibited UAS Operations

  1. UAS operations as part of University of Nebraska activities without submission of the required information and approval by the designated University of Nebraska campus authority are prohibited.
  2. UAS outdoor or indoor operations on or above the University of Nebraska that create undue hazard to the university community or the public are prohibited.
  3. UAS operations on or above the University of Nebraska that monitor or record sensitive institutional or personal information are prohibited, including: an individual’s workspace or computer; restrooms; changing, dressing, or locker rooms; residential rooms, hallways, or lounges; health treatment rooms; or daycare facilities.
  4. UAS operations on or above the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) are prohibited due to helipad, unless granted an exception by the UNMC Chancellor.
  5. UAS operations above or in proximity of University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Memorial Stadium on a game day are prohibited under FAA regulation (https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/) and UNL policy (http://bf.unl.edu/policies/football-game-day-stadium-halo-policy) unless granted an exception by the UNL Chancellor and an FAA airspace waiver.

Penalties for Violation of Policy

Any violations of university policies or student code of conduct by an individual will be administered in accordance with applicable university policies and procedures. Individuals who violate this policy may be subject to civil or criminal penalties and the seizure of UAS by campus police or security. Fines, damages, and claims against individuals who violate this policy may be the responsibility of that individual.

Applications and Checklist

Any violations of university policies or student code of conduct by an individual will be administered in accordance with applicable university policies and procedures. Individuals who violate this policy may be subject to civil or criminal penalties and the seizure of UAS by campus police or security. Fines, damages, and claims against individuals who violate this policy may be the responsibility of that individual.

UAS User Applications and Checklists

Select your appropriate user group below to view instructions and forms.

Please note: Fillable forms can be downloaded and filled using Adobe Reader. Forms are not fillable in Firefox web browser but are fillable in Chrome and Internet Explorer.