Office of Research Integrity

Office of ResearchIntegrity

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM PROCEDURES AND GUIDANCE

Permission is required from Iowa State University prior to anyone operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) from Iowa State University property, and all operators must follow Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules. The UAS Request Form is the mechanism to receive approval to operate from Iowa State University property.

Anyone utilizing UAS for research purposes must receive prior approval from the Office of Research Integrity regardless of where the UAS operations occur. See the section for ISU Operators below and complete the Unmanned Aircraft Research Project Approval Form before operating UAS for research purposes.


Types of UAS Use on ISU Property

Hobby or Recreation

  • ISU Student Operated: With prior ISU approval, persons or organizations with no connections to research or commercial use may fly. Recreational users of model aircraft must adhere to the relevant FAA hobbyist rules. The FAA also requires federal registration of the UAS if the model aircraft is over 0.55 lbs.
  • ISU Employee Operated: An ISU employee cannot operate a UAS in their capacity as an employee under FAA hobbyist rules.  They can however operate as recreational user outside their ISU role as a non-ISU operator.
  • Non-ISU Operated: With prior ISU approval, persons or organizations with no connections to research or commercial use may fly. Recreational users of model aircraft must adhere to the relevant FAA hobbyist rules. The FAA also requires federal registration of the UAS if the model aircraft is over 0.55 lbs.

Research/Commercial

  • ISU Student Operated: An ISU student can fly for research purposes under the Instructional Use rules below if it furthers their education.
  • ISU Employee Operated: With prior ISU approval, when adhering to Part 107 rules, or ISU’s public COA. See Unmanned Aircraft Research Project Approval Form and UAS Authorization Comparison.
  • Non-ISU Operated: With prior ISU approval, a third party may operate UAS with an FAA 333 exemption or under Part 107 rules.

Instructional

  • ISU Student Operated: With prior ISU approval, students may operate a UAS in furtherance of aviation-related education under a special interpretation of FAA hobbyist rules.

Extension

  • ISU Employee Operated: With prior ISU approval, an ISU employee may operate UAS under hobby or recreation rules at ISU and community-sponsored events so long as their role at ISU is not related to operating the aircraft at such events* or under Part 107 rules.
  • Non-ISU Operated: With prior ISU approval, a person or organization may operate UAS under hobby or recreation rules at ISU and community-sponsored events so long as they are not compensated.* See UAS Authorization Comparison for additional options.

*See https://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/uas_regulations_policy/media/interpretation-educational-use-of-uas.pdf.


Hobbyist or Recreational Use

Requirements for hobbyist or recreational use:

Request: Complete and submit to Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) the UAS Request Form (If your UAS is between 0.55 and 55 lbs, you will need your FAA UAS registration number prior to completing your request to ISU FP&M).

Insurance: While flying a UAS on ISU property, you will be responsible for any damage caused by its use. You may wish to become a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) or other similar organization to obtain insurance coverage. You may comply with the requirement for aircraft liability insurance coverage in the following ways:

Option 1: General Liability Insurance

Provide a certificate of insurance from your general liability insurance company (usually your homeowners’ insurance carrier) showing that your policy applies to liabilities, in the amounts stated below, arising from the use of model/hobby aircraft:

Owned aircraft liability: $500,000
Non-Owned aircraft liability: $500,000

The certificate holder and additional insured must be:

Iowa State University; State of Iowa; Board of Regents, State of Iowa

c/o Office of Risk Management

3618 Administrative Services Building

Ames IA 50011-3618

Email to: orm@iastate.edu

Option 2: Academy of Model Aeronautics Insurance (or similar)

Provide to the Office of Risk Management proof of coverage for at least $500,000 through the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) or similar organization.

Approval: Receive notice of approval from FP&M to keep with you while flying. Approval is granted and valid only on the condition that the Ames Municipal Airport has been notified of the flight.

Operation: Operate UAS in a safe manner and only at the time and place authorized. See Know Before You Fly and FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-57A, “Model Aircraft Operating Standards – Including Change 1.”

The university reserves the right to modify these requirements based on its determination of risk.


ISU Operators

Requirements for university use:

Preparation to Operate UAS

Any university employee or student wishing to operate an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) as part of their university employment or as part of a university program must comply with Part 107 rules or ISU’s Public COA issued by the FAA See UAS Authorization Comparison. The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is the FAA account holder for COAs for Iowa State University and must process all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Process:

Complete the Unmanned Aircraft Research Project Approval Form and submit for review.

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) will determine whether a proposed use can be approved as described, needs modification for approval, or should be denied. ORI will only approve those uses that it reasonably believes to be covered by FAA authorization.

If ORI denies a proposed use, the denial may be appealed in writing to the Vice President for Research (VPR), and such an appeal must be filed within five business days of denial.

At least 48 business hours prior to flying, complete and submit to Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) a UAS Flying Request Form.


Non-ISU Operators (Commercial, Research, Instruction, Extension)

Requirements if an ISU unit is contracting with a third party to operate UAS over university property:

Request: The operator or the unit contracting for the services must complete and submit to Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) a UAS Flying Request Form and provide a 333 exemption, Part 107 remote pilot license, or similar authorization number from the FAA.

Agreement Terms: Standard terms approved by Purchasing must be included in the agreement.

Insurance Coverage Compliance:

Owned Aircraft Liability: $2 million

Non–Owned Aircraft Liability: $2 million

Commercial General Liability:   $1,000,000 per occurrence; $2,000,000 aggregate

  • Policy shall name Iowa State University; Board of Regents, State of Iowa; and the State of Iowa as additional insureds.
  • Insurance companies shall be licensed to do business in the State of Iowa and have a minimum AM Best Rating of A-VII.
  • Certificates must be issued and on file prior to UAS operation on ISU property.
  • The purchase of any policy or adding Iowa State as additional insured shall not limit the defense of governmental immunity.

Certificates and Endorsements shall be sent to:

ISU Office of Risk Management
1700 Administrative Services Building
2221 Wanda Daley Drive
Ames, IA 50011-1004

Email to: orm@iastate.edu

The university reserves the right to modify these requirements based on its determination of risk.


Additional Information

Hobbyists and recreational users of UAS (e.g., students, faculty, the general public) are mostly unregulated by the FAA. ISU does not prohibit recreational uses, but does require pre-approval with consideration for:

  • Safety (preventing injuries, collisions, dangerous distractions)
  • Privacy (use of cameras on UAS)
  • Disruption of other activities

Safety Issues: Commercially available UAS can weigh up to 55 pounds under FAA regulations. A flying object of even a few ounces can cause injury to people, animals and property. Larger unmanned aircraft can cause fatalities upon loss of power. In one instance at ISU, a remotely controlled aircraft was observed crashing into Parks Library. In another case, a UAS flown from the top of the Memorial Union Parking Ramp crashed on top of a university building. Had these aircraft hit the glass windows of one of our older buildings, they could have caused not only property damage, but serious injury to people or animals.

Privacy Issues: People live their lives with certain expectations. If they live on the ground floor, they know someone can see in if they leave the curtain open. If they live on an upper floor, they know that a telephoto lens on the ground isn’t going to expose much. Or they know there are windows on the building across the street, and they decide to pull the shades. UAS bearing cameras offer flexibility in angle of view and closeness to windows where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy.


RESOURCES

Frequently Asked Questions
UAS Flying Request Form
Unmanned Aircraft Research Project Approval Form
UAS Authorization Comparison (PDF)
ISU UAS Policy
FAA UAS Website