Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Handbook of Operating Procedures 8-1070

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

University of Texas SealEffective October 17, 2016
Executive Sponsor: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial OfficerPolicy Owner: Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security
I. Policy Statement 

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) to provide a safe educational, living, and working environment for its students, employees, affiliates and visitors. The University recognizes the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAV”) on University property may threaten the privacy and safety of the University community, disturb the educational goals of the University, and/or interfere with the University community’s reasonable use and enjoyment of the air above its property. The University prohibits the use of UAV on University property and off campus when conducting university-sponsored activities, except as required by law or pursuant to the authorization process provided by this policy.  Any approved use of UAV on University property or off campus must be in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for such use.

II. Reason for Policy 

To provide administrative roles, responsibilities, and procedures for the use of UAV on University property and off campus when UAV are to be operated as part of University-sponsored activities.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to all employees, students, visitors, University affiliates, and any other individual or entity, including but not limited to filmmakers who wish to use UAV on University property or while conducting University-sponsored activities off campus. This policy is not intended to provide approval for filming, video or photography on University property, or procurement of UAV services. Approval for these activities, associated with use of UAV, must be obtained prior to any request for use of UAV on University property.

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 
Unmanned Aircraft System ("UAS"):

An unmanned aerial vehicle and its associated elements that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the unmanned aerial vehicle in the national airspace system.  Such elements may include control stations (ground, ship, or air-based), control links, support equipment, payloads, flight termination systems, and launch/recovery equipment.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ("UAV"):

An aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft. This includes, but is not limited to, quad-copters; remote controlled planes; and devices commonly referred to as “drones”.

University Property:

All real property owned by the University, including the air above the property necessary for the reasonable use and enjoyment of the land.

V. Website (for policy) 
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Campus Safety and SecurityPhone:512-471-5767Website:
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 
  1. Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ("UAV")
  1. General. A person operating a UAV pursuant to this policy must meet all legal requirements to operate the UAV, as applicable, including, but not limited to, a Section 333 Exemption Documentation; a Certificate of Authorization ("COA") documenting the operating of the specific UAV, for a specific purpose, in a specific area; a UAV registered with the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration system; and a pilot with an FAA Airman Certificate and/or Remote Pilot Certification. Notice must be provided to the local Air Traffic Control or FAA Flight Standards District Office when legally required.
  2. On University Property. The use of UAV on University property is prohibited unless otherwise required by law or approved in advance by the University. Refer to Section VII. B, Authorization Procedures for on Campus Use, below. 
  3. University-Sponsored Use Off-Campus. Use of UAV off campus by University employees in the scope of employment must have prior approval by the applicable department head and dean/vice president or their delegate. The requestor must submit the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Request Form (non-UT Property) to begin the process. The review will include input from EHS, the Office for the Vice President for Legal Affairs, University Risk Management, and other offices as deemed necessary. Written approval by the land owner or lessor, as applicable, must be provided by the requestor.
  1. Authorization Procedures for on Campus Use
  1. Approval. The associate vice president for campus safety and security ("AVP-CSS") is responsible for approving the use of UAV on University property.
  1. Application. An individual who wishes to use UAV on University property must submit an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Request Form to the AVP-CSS.
  1. UAV Review Group ("UAVRG").The UAVRG will review all requests for UAV use and provide its recommendation to the AVP-CSS. Given the variety of campus interests, the UAVRG will be comprised of representatives from the list below, though additional groups may be involved based on the specific request:
  • Environmental Health and Safety, whose representative will serve as chair
  • Legal Affairs
  • Development Office
  • President’s Office
  • The University of Texas Police Department
  • University Risk Management

Criteria used for approval of these requests will include assessment of:

  • risk to the health and safety of persons on University property;
  • risk to University property;
  • distraction from the educational mission of the University;
  • business, educational or research value to the University;
  • compliance with UT-Austin insurance requirements; and
  • compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. 

The UAVRG may also seek input from departments affected by the use of the UAV. UAVRG may propose an alternative time, location, or any other change in the best interest of the University.


  1. Approval. The AVP-CSS will review UAVRG’s recommendation and ultimately approve the request as submitted, provide conditional approval, or deny the request and provide notification to the applicant. If an approval or conditional approval is granted, the applicant must acknowledge in writing the approval as granted before proceeding with the use of UAV. The written acknowledgement must include a statement that the applicant will comply with all FAA regulations and other applicable laws and policy. Decisions made by the AVP-CSS under this section are final. In addition, the University reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule any approved UAV usage, if doing so is in the best interests of the University.
  1. Responsibilities
  1. Notice. Upon approval of the use of UAV, the applicant will collaborate with the University to provide notice to any parties who may be affected by the use of UAV. This notice must include the time, place, and purpose of the use of UAV.
  1. Damage. The applicant granted approval for use is responsible for any damage resulting from the use of UAV on University property. If the applicant is a University employee/department, using a third-party contractor to operate UAV, liability for damage must be otherwise assigned contractually to this third party. Damage to University property or injury to an individual(s) due to UAV operations is considered a violation of this policy. Please see insurance requirements below.
  1. Insurance Requirements

The insurance requirements associated with use of UAV on University property and off-campus will be determined by University Risk Management, in consultation with UT System Risk Management.


  1. Registration Requirements

All University owned or acquired UAV must be properly registered in accordance with FAA requirements. See Section VIII, Forms and Tools, for registration information and requirements.


  1. Exceptions 

Prior notice and authorization is preferred, but not required, for use of UAV on University property by emergency personnel acting under the authority of applicable law. 


  1. Sanctions

A University employee who violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. A student who violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion. A visitor or other third party who uses UAV on University property in violation of this policy is considered trespassing and will be subject to actions the University has available including removal from campus, arrest, prosecution, and/or other legal action.

XI. History