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Majors & Degrees

Drones/Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Policy 12.1
Approved by: PRESIDENT
Responsible Officer: Vice president for business administrative services
Responsible Office: business and administrative services
Originally Issued: 04/25/2022
Last Revision: NEW
Related Policy
SDBOR Policy 1.7.3 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy
FAA Educational Users: Drones for Education
FAA Section 44807: Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems
FAA 49 USC 44809: Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft (2021)
FAA 14 CFR Part 107 Certified Remote Pilots including Commercial Operators


This policy establishes university processes as required by SDBOR policy 1:30 to ensure the responsible operation of UAS on or within Dakota State University property. Adherence to this policy ensures compliance with all applicable laws, enhances safety, and enables UAS use in academic scholarship in teaching, research, and co-curricular activities.


  1. Certificate of Authorization (COA). Pursuant to Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations, the COA is an authorization issued by the Air Traffic Organization to a public operator for a specific UAS activity.
  2. Contracted UAS Use. All UAS use is conducted by contractors or third parties for institutional purposes pursuant to a contract with the university.
  3. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Evolved out of the Air Commerce Act of 1926 to improve and maintain air navigation safety standards as advocated by aviation industry leaders at the time. Became the Federal Aviation Agency in 1958 and changed to the Federal Aviation Administration in 1966 with the birth of the Department of Transportation (DOT). https://www.faa.gov/
  4. Institutional Airspace. Includes that portion of the air space between the surface of the ground and 300 feet above the ground or above a building or structure erected on the university property.
  5. Institutional UAS Use. Any UAS operation by university employees or students as part of their university employment or as part of a university program.
  6. Part 107. FAA final rule on Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 49 CFR Part 107 and any amendments thereto. This rule governs civil operations of small UAS weighing less than 55 pounds by a Remote Pilot in Command or under the direct supervision of a certified Remote Pilot. Part 107 does not apply to model aircraft.
  7. Section 44807 Exemption. FAA-approved exemption to fly an unmanned aircraft that exceeds the maximum weight limit of 55 pounds, or the mission includes a non-waiverable rule.
  8. TRUST Token. Certificate earned from a Recreational UAS Safety Test that recreational flyers need in order to operate a drone legally in the United States.
  9. Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS). Uncrewed aircraft and their associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the uncrewed aircraft) are required for the pilot in command to operate the uncrewed aircraft safely and efficiently.


  1. Categories of UAS Users. For purposes of this policy, UAS users at the DSU generally fall into four categories. All of these users require flight permission from the university and a TRUST token certificate or a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.
    1. Institutional-Academic/Administrative Use: UAS operations related to classroom instruction, student clubs, student camps, athletic activities, and administrative functions.
    2. Institutional-Research Use: UAS operations related to sponsored research at DSU.
    3. Recreational/Hobby Use: UAS operations for pleasure or personal interest, not for educational purposes, compensation, or sale (e.g., taking photos or videos for personal use) that require operators to maintain adequate liability insurance.
    4. Commercial Use: UAS operations that require contracts and agreements that require third-party operators to comply with this policy, including maintaining adequate liability insurance.
  2. Compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations. The FAA has jurisdiction over all navigable airspace in the United States. All aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, are subject to FAA rules and regulations. All university employees, contractors, third parties, students, and visitors operating UAS governed by this policy are responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and university policies.
  3. Designated Institutional Office. The Department of Business and Administrative Services shall assume responsibility for overseeing institutional UAS compliance at Dakota State University. Responsibilities shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Approve or deny individual flight requests or bundled activity annual requests for operating UAS on or within DSU property. The Department of Business and Administrative Services shall route UAS requests, as needed, to other institutional offices impacted by the request to ensure evidence-informed decision-making.
    2. Ensures that an institution use requested UAS operation is authorized under Part 107, a Section 44807 exemption, or a COA.
    3. Ensures compliance with a recreational/hobby use requested UAS operation.
    4. Ensures adequate insurance coverage as applicable to each UAS request.
    5. Ensures each person controlling the UAS has received the requisite training, certification, or licensure as applicable to each UAS request.
    6. Establishes and documents such additional training, maintenance, logging, and control procedures as may be required under FAA policy and guidance.
    7. Coordinates a Drone/UAS Advisory Committee.
      1. Purposes
        1. Provide advice and feedback for Drone/UAS requests and usage at DSU.
        2. Monitors individual institutional unit guidance/handbooks relative to specific ongoing unit annual activities for UAS compliance.
      2. Membership. The University Risk Management Committee shall serve as the Drone/UAS Advisory Committee. The committee shall have at least one member from DSU’s Applied Research Lab (ARL).
  4. UAS Operations Indoors.
    1. The university may allow the use of UAS inside university facilities when such use supports the university’s mission as the FAA does not regulate the use of UAS indoors (e.g., on a stage, in a building, or in other enclosed areas).
    2. The following restrictions apply to the use of UAS inside university facilities:
      1. Only with prior approval in writing from the university.
      2. Only during University-approved hours and dates, at university-approved locations, and adhering to university-authorized flight parameters.
      3. Only when use does not interfere with normal facility operations.
      4. Only in a manner that does not damage facilities.
      5. Only when university-identified safety measures are implemented prior to use.
      6. Within the full visual line of sight and control of the operator, unless for University research purposes as authorized by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.
      7. In classrooms only if the UAS weighs less than 250 grams/.55 pounds.
      8. Only UAS devices of 3 pounds or less shall be used, unless for research purposes as authorized by the Vice President for Business and Administrative Services.
      9. Only for a university programmatic or educational purposes.
      10. Not during indoor university events or in areas where public access is not controlled.
      11. Only in a manner that reasonably ensures human safety.
      12. Only with approved observers in the indoor space.
      13. Only in a manner that meets or exceeds the standards set in 14 CFR Subpart B – Operating Rules.
      14. Only in a manner that adheres to other UAS flight restrictions deemed appropriate by the Department of Business and Administrative Services.
    3. Private operations of UAS will not generally be permitted indoors in university facilities unless in partnership with university co-sponsors.
  5. Prohibited Uses of UAS. Many types of airspace restrictions affect UAS flights in the United States, including prohibitions that commonly affect flights over emergency or rescue operations, stadiums/sporting events, near airports or crewed aircraft, and restricted or special use airspace. In addition to any prohibited uses of UAS established by law, DSU prohibits the following:
    1. The operation of UAS on or within university property without prior approval by the Vice President for Business and Administrative Services, or designee, as specified in this policy.
    2. The operation of UAS inside of university buildings for hobby/recreational purposes.
    3. The operation of UAS to monitor or record areas from inside or outside where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy unless the use is in accord with an IRB-approved protocol and/or with permission of the Vice President for Business and Administrative Services.
    4. The operation of UAS in any location where there is a significant safety, security, or privacy risk to the community as determined by Campus Security, the UAS Advisory Committee (DSU Risk Management Committee), or Business and Administrative Services.
  6. University-Owned UAS.
    1. All university-owned UAS shall be registered with the Department of Business and Administrative Services.
    2. Individuals who fly university-owned UAS shall be licensed according to FAA rules (or someone supervised by an FAA licensed UAS pilot).
  7. Contracted UAS Use. All contractors or third parties conducting contracted UAS use shall provide the university with proper proof of insurance evidencing insurance coverage.
  8. Reporting Responsibilities
    1. Accidents and Emergencies. UAS operators shall report accidents and emergencies involving UAS operations governed by this policy to the Vice President for Business and Administrative Services, designee, or successor within twenty-four (24) hours of incident. UAS operators shall report emergencies requiring immediate assistance to local emergency response and the University Safety Resource Officer.
    2. Records and Logs. UAS operators governed by this policy shall maintain records and logs as required for the lawful operation of the properly authorized UAS and maintain in accordance with retention record protocols and applicable law. UAS operators shall comply with all applicable reporting provisions.
  9. Enforcement. Possible consequences for violating this policy may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Immediate cessation of unauthorized use with or without notice.
    2. Removal from University property.
    3. Being reported to local law enforcement.
    4. Disciplinary actions.
    5. Fines or damages incurred by individuals or units as a result of UAS use that do not comply with this policy.
    6. Civil or criminal penalties under federal law for lack of compliance with FAA regulations.
  10. UAS Compliance with Other Policies. This policy and its major procedures shall be read in conjunction with university and SDBOR policy regarding conduct while on university grounds and using institutional resources.




  1. Institutional Unit UAS Handbooks.
    1. Each institutional unit that intends to operate UAS as part of its regular annual unit activities shall submit a handbook prior to those activities and annually thereafter submit the handbook by August 1 for the academic year.
    2. The handbook shall contain specific UAS operator guidance relative to those activities.
    3. The handbook shall be submitted to the Vice President for the Department of Business and Administrative Services, or designee.
  2. UAS Use Approval. Individuals or groups who wish to conduct UAS flights for any purpose (academic, research, co-curricular, personal, or commercial) use must complete the appropriate Institutional Use UAS Flight Request Form obtained from the Department of Business and Administrative Services for approval prior to UAS use.
    1. Institutional UAS Use Flight Application
    2. Recreational/Hobby Use Flight Application
  3. Institutional UAS Purchase. Individuals or groups who wish to purchase institutional UAS shall obtain approvals from the Vice President for Business and Administrative Services, or designee.


Drone Flight Application


NEW: 04/25/2022