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Fort Lewis College Official Seal

Policy identification number: To come

File: Safety & Health Policies

Safety Policy for Academic Research Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Policy Summary

This policy establishes the minimum safety requirements for academic teaching and research using UAVs on and above Fort Lewis College property.

Policy Owner

Vice President for Finance and Administration

Approval Date

June 15, 2017

Effective Date

June 15, 2017

Search Terms

vpfa, s, uav,

Scheduled for Review

Spring 2022

I. Policy Statement

Fort Lewis College (FLC) has developed this Safety Policy for Academic/Research Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to protect employees, students and the general public from hazards associated with the operation of such vehicles.  Individuals controlling UAVs are responsible for adhering to all FAA rules and regulations at all times.

  1. General Information
        1. This safety policy applies to all UAVs used by faculty, staff and students as part of any College-related academic or research activity.
        2. A UAV may not be used in relation to College business or over College property until it and its use are registered with Fort Lewis College.
        3. UAVs can be registered by completing the registration form found at the end of this document.
        4. A list of approved registrations will be maintained by the individual departments, FLC Police Department and the Office of Risk Management.
        5. Only registered UAVs will be provided insurance coverage by the College.
        6. UAV operators must comply with all aspects of this policy and all local, state, federal laws and regulations regarding safe use and operation of their UAV.

        7. All operators of UAVs must complete the waiver form found at the end of this document.

  2. Minimal Safety Standards
        1. UAVs may be flown indoors for research purposes.  In such cases, a UAV must be flown within a protective enclosure.
        2. UAVs must remain within visual line of site of the operator.
        3. UAVs may not fly over or within 25 feet of any vehicles or unprotected persons.
        4. UAVs may not be flown within 50 feet of College or other buildings or overhead utility lines.
        5. UAVs may only be flown during daylight hours.
        6. UAVs may not be flown more than 200 feet above ground level.
        7. UAVs must always yield right of way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned, and, must be operated in a manner that does not interfere with other aircraft.
        8. UAVs shall not exceed a maximum speed of 50 mph.
        9. A minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from the control location is required at all times.
        10. No operations are allowed from a moving vehicle.
        11. No careless or reckless operations are permitted at any timed by UAV operators.
        12. A preflight inspection is required by the operator in accordance with any guidance applicable to the aircraft as specified by the FAA.  This includes a function test of controls and the aircraft.
        13. UAVs experiencing a malfunction shall be immediately grounded until the malfunction is corrected.
        14. No metal blade propellers may be used.
        15. UAVs may not carry hazardous materials or pyrotechnic devices that explode or burn or materials that may separate from the aircraft during flight.
        16. UAVs may not be flown in any location subject to a Red Flag warning period issued by the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority, National Weather Service or Department of Homeland Security – Division of Emergency Management.
        17. UAVs may not be flown around or above emergency response personnel or equipment.
        18. UAVs shall not be flown when weather conditions such as wind affect the ability of the operator to maintain appropriate distance from people or property.
        19. A person may not operate a UAV if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of the UAV.
        20. Any other FAA-required or regulated provisions will be followed in accordance with FAA standards and/or guidelines.

  3. General Restrictions
        1. UAVs shall not be used to monitor or record areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in accordance with accepted social norms.  These areas include, but are not limited to:  restrooms, locker rooms, residential rooms, changing rooms, dressing rooms, or health treatment rooms.
        2. UAVs shall not be used to monitor or record residential hallways, lounges, or inside of campus childcare facilities.
        3. UAVs shall not be used to monitor or record sensitive institutional or personal information which may be found, for example on an individual’s workspaces, on computers or other electronic displays.
        4. If images of individuals will be captured in a resolution that allows people to be identified (i.e., a data subject), where practicable UAV operators should make a reasonable effort to provide prior notice to individuals of the general timeframe and area so that such individuals may anticipate a UAV unintentionally collecting covered data.
        5. UAV operators will take measures to manage security risks of covered data by implementing a process that contains reasonable administrative, technical and physical safeguards appropriate to the size, complexity, nature and scope of its activities, and sensitivity of the covered data. The process should include steps to:
            1. Take care in the collection and storage of information that identifies a particular covered data (person);
            2. Limit the use and sharing of such data;
            3. Secure the data;
            4. Monitor and comply with the law as it evolves.

        6. Restrictions may be placed on users depending on specific circumstances or changes in evolving FAA rules, regulations and laws.

  4. Enforcement
        1. Fort Lewis College reserves the right to confiscate or restrict individual use of UAVs on campus.
        2. The Student Conduct Code and Employee Conduct Codes will be referenced as appropriate for violations of the above requirements, if applicable.

  5. Suspension of UAV Flights on Campus
        1. Fort Lewis College may suspend all flights of UAVs on campus as recommended by the FLC Police or Office of Risk Management.
        2. Individuals may be prohibited from flying UAVs on campus based on recommendations of the FLC Police, student Affairs or Academic Affairs. 

  6. Fort Lewis College reserves the right to change these requirements based on its determination of risk and/or changes in FAA protocols.

II. Reason for Policy 

This policy allows for academic programs’ teaching and research with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) while simultaneously mitigating risk to faculty, staff, students, the general public and the College.

III. Responsibilities 

For following the policy: Academic departments and the Office of Risk Management

For enforcement of the policy: Office of Risk Management; Fort Lewis College Police Department

For oversight of the policy: Vice President of Finance and Administration

For notification of policy: Policy Librarian

For procedures implementing the policy: Academic departments and the Office of Risk Management

IV. Definitions 

Covered Data: Means information collected by a UAV that identifies a particular person. If data collected by an UAV likely will not be linked to an individual’s name or other personally identifiable information, or if the data is altered so that a specific person is not recognizable, it is not covered data.

Data Subjects: Refers to the individuals about whom covered data is collected.

Drone: Usually referred to an unmanned military aircraft; also referred to as small recreational unmanned remote controlled aircraft

FAA: Federal Aviation Administration, the governmental agency responsible for regulating and monitoring civil aviation within the United States of America.

FAA Certification: Addressed in Section 333 of the FAA Standards. www.faa.gov/uas.

Small Unmanned Aircraft: Defined by the FAA as weighing 0.55 to 55 pounds in weight and include UAVs, UASs and drones.

UAS: Unmanned aerial system.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) - For purpose of this policy all drones, small unmanned aircraft, unmanned aerial systems and other unmanned aerial vehicles will be designated as “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs)

V. Cross-Referenced Policies 

Federal Aviation Administration - Section 333