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Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Drones, and other Model Aircraft

About this Policy

Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Drones, and other Model Aircraft

Policy Number: 13104

Effective Date:
Dec 12, 2017

Last Updated:

Responsible Office:
Risk & Insurance Management

Responsible Administrator:
AVP Management Services & Director of Risk & Insurance Management

Policy Contact:

Risk & Insurance Management


  • General Administration

Request additional information



Examples of activities intended to be covered by this policy include but are not limited to the following:

  • University employees and students operating unmanned aircraft systems in any location as part of their University employment or as part of University activities
  • The operation by any person of unmanned aircraft system or model aircraft from University property
  • The purchase of unmanned aircraft systems with funding through University resources, including university accounts, grants, or Foundation accounts, and
  • The hiring for or contracting for any unmanned aircraft services by a University unit

Reason for Policy

The University must comply with FAA requirements, state law, and any other applicable laws or regulations regarding unmanned aircraft systems. Inherent risks in the operation of such equipment require additional insurance provisions and policy considerations.

The use of UAS along with aerial vehicles known as “drones”, can make significant contributions to University research and service/outreach in a variety of disciplines.  Additionally, aerial photography with UAS can potentially assist in University Academic (Study, Research), land management, athletics, law enforcement and other support functions.

UAS regulation is emerging and multi-faceted.  Particularly with respect to UAS, public concern with privacy is well documented.  UAS operational safety – entailing both UAS equipment and the pilots who operate it remotely -- is regulated by the FAA, although the FAA policy framework is likely to evolve significantly in the near future, this policy will change and remain compliant.

Policy Statement

The use of unmanned aircraft systems (commonly referred to as drones), as well as other remotely operated model aircraft (together referred to as “UAS” or “UAS’s”) pose inherent risks to the health, security, and privacy of the University community and individuals in the surrounding community. Therefore, the recreational use of UAS is prohibited on all property owned or controlled by the University and during University sponsored events without prior authorization.

Faculty, staff, students, and outside requestors seeking to use a UAS on University property or for research, instruction, marketing, or other University purpose must submit a permit application for UAS use. Applicants must satisfy all Federal Aviation Administration requirements and applicable laws or regulations, including the necessary pilot certification prior to UAS use. Requestor must obtain a University UAS permit and observe FAA rules and restrictions.  Requests for UAS use will be approved through the campus designee in consideration of federal and state law regarding the operation and regulation of UASs. The University reserves the right to waive any of these requirements when in the best interest of the University to do so. Media inquiries should be directed to campus communications designee.

Persons violating this policy will be subject to discipline under University policies, and may be subject to criminal and civil penalties and liability under federal and state law. Law enforcement and emergency management agencies are exempt from the application requirement for official law enforcement and emergency response efforts.


University Property – Buildings, grounds, and land that are owned or controlled by The Curators of the University of Missouri via leases or other formal contractual arrangements to house ongoing UM operations.

COA- Certificate of Authorization or Waiver. According to the FAA, the COA is an authorization issued by the Air Traffic Organization to a public operator for a specific UA activity. After a complete application is submitted, FAA conducts a comprehensive operational and technical review. If necessary, provisions or limitations may be imposed as part of the approval to ensure the UA can operate safely with other airspace users. In most cases, FAA will provide a formal response within 60 days from the time a completed application is submitted. An abbreviated COA is issued with a 333 exemption. The full COA is issued for governmental operations such as a police department. Research is not a “governmental operation.”

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) - UAS are also known as or may be characterized as Drones. According to the FAA, a UAS is the unmanned aircraft and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft. UAS may have a variety of names including quadcopter, quadrotor, etc. FAA regulation applies to UAS regardless of size or weight. Model aircraft are not considered by the FAA as UAS and have different regulations.

Model Aircraft - Model aircraft are considered differently by the FAA than other UAS and have different regulations. Model aircraft are not for business purposes, only for hobby and recreation. (Use of UAS related to the University does not qualify as model aircraft regulations.) Model aircraft must be kept within visual sightline of the operator, and should weigh under 55 pounds unless certified by an aeromodeling community-based organization. Model aircraft must be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas.


  • "Because the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS without supervision are both pilots and members of the crew who navigate the small unmanned aircraft when it is under way, these crewmembers are statutorily required to have an airman certificate. The FAA therefore maintains the requirement that a person manipulating the flight controls of a small UAS without supervision must obtain a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating and this rule will also extend this requirement to the remote pilot in command."(p.102)

  • "To further enable the educational opportunities … this rule will allow the remote pilot in command (who will be a certificated airman) to supervise another person’s manipulation of a small UAS’s flight controls. A person who receives this type of supervision from the remote pilot in command will not be required to obtain a remote pilot certificate to manipulate the controls of a small UAS as long as the remote pilot in command possesses the ability to immediately take direct control of the small unmanned aircraft." (p.103)



Additional Details


Unmanned Aerial System Request Form

FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Small UAS rule (Part 107)

Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration

UAV/UAS No Drone Zone

Federal Aviation Administration FAQ’s

Campus Filming & Photography


Related Information

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

Registration Requirements

All UAS must be properly registered in accordance with FAA requirements.


Formerly Business Policy Manual 604 - Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Drones, and other Model Aircraft (added 8/1/2017)


Reviewed 2017-12-06