5,030: Policy on Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Drones

Revised: December 2019

I. Purpose

Unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. “drones”) have become increasingly popular, and the development and use of this technology has broad utility in the pursuit of the University’s research, education, and other missions. At the same time, UAV regulation and compliance is emerging and complex. This policy defines the requirements for the purchase, registration, and use of UAVs at and/or in association with the University.

II. Scope

This policy applies to:

A. All members of the University of Nevada, Reno community, including but not limited to employees, units, students, clubs, organizations and other university-related individuals, operating UAVs in any location as part of their university employment or as part of any university-related program, research or activity;

B. The operation by any person or entity of UAVs on or above the university campus and/or any other property owned by, leased by, or otherwise subject to the control of the University, whether for personal, recreational, commercial, research or any other purpose; and

C. The purchase of UAVs with funding through the University, including without limitation university accounts, grants, or University of Nevada, Reno Foundation accounts.

III. Policy

UAVs may not be flown in or above university property by any party without written approval from the Vice President for Research and Innovation (VPRI).

UAVs may not be flown by university faculty, staff or students as part of their university employment or as part of any university-related program, research or activity without prior written approval from the VPRI. This requirement applies regardless of whether the operations are on or above university property.

In all cases, approved flights must comply with all local, state, and federal regulations regarding unmanned aircraft. It is the sole responsibility of the party seeking approval for flight operations to ensure that their proposed flight complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

IV. Authorization

In order to receive university authorization to conduct any UAV operation permitted under this policy, the proposed operator shall file an Operations Plan with and receive approval of the Operation Plan by the VPRI.

This plan must include the following (be advised that requirements may change should FAA implement changes to its UAV-related regulations):

A. Specific identification of the equipment to be used (include registration number and information about the UAV control systems, communication systems, etc.);
B. Date(s) and approximate time of the operation;
C. Location(s) of the operation; D. Identity of and contact information for the operator;
E. Purpose(s) of the operation;
F. All forms of data (including imagery) to be collected as a result of the operation;
G. Current status of any required registrations, licenses or permissions (, and insurance;
H. Provisions for security of the equipment, both during and outside of operation, and of any sensitive data collected; and
I. Such additional information as reasonably necessary to permit the VPRI to fully understand and evaluate the proposed operation.

In addition, the Operations Plan must include or be accompanied by responses to the following:

i. The proposed operator and all crew members (including pilots) shall have their Part 107 license (where required);

ii. File flight plan or confirm when flight plan will be filed through the RTAA LAANC (automated system);

iii. Verify that all flight operations will be during daytime. If flight occurs after sunset, an approved Part 107 FAA waiver is required;

iv. Identify the appropriate ground safety procedures that will be in place during the flight operations;

v. Verify that all flight operations will not fly over people. If flying over people, an approved Part 107 FAA waiver is required;

vi. Confirm that the proposed operator and crew have (i) read the privacy and other regulations contained in Chapter 493 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, and (ii) will comply with NRS Chapter 493;

vii. Crew Experience: Provide documentation of the level of prior training; how many hours each crew member has flown the system and flown the system while taking pictures;

viii. If applicable, provide information on the level of risk mitigation for the mission that the crew plans on flying over university property;

ix. If proposed operator and crew plan to fly over roads, ensure a plan to avoid flying directly over vehicles, if possible;

x. Ensure emergency procedures are in place for lost link with the drone and/or engine failure during planned flights, landings and take-offs; and

xi. If operating on or over university property, the proposed operator shall list the University as additionally insured on their insurance and/or sign a statement to indemnify the University against all claims. Please include certificate of insurance evidencing this coverage or the signed indemnity agreement with your Operations Plan.

The fully completed Operations Plan and the answers to the additional questions must be submitted at least seven (7) calendar days prior to operations. Operations Plans that are incomplete; fail to comply with applicable laws, government regulations, and other university policies and guidelines; pose an unacceptable threat to health, safety, privacy, or the environment, as determined by the University; or are judged by the University to be against the best interest of the public and/or the University, will not be approved.

Approval of an Operations Plan does not certify compliance with applicable laws and regulations. It is the sole responsibility of the party seeking approval for flight operations to ensure that their proposed flight complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

The VPRI (or designee) has final authority to approve or deny any Operations Plan.

For operations on campus, the UAV pilot must call the University Police Services “Duty Office” line at (775) 745-6195 and notify the police officer on duty that they are about to commence the flight. Once finished, the officer on duty should be notified that the flight operations have been completed.

V. Purchasing, Registration and Maintenance of University-Owned UAVs

A. Purchasing and Registration. FAA regulations and Nevada law require the registration of all university-owned UAVs. All employees and units who have purchased or developed UAVs on behalf of the University prior to the effective date of this policy and/or purchase or develop UAVs to be owned by the University after the effective date of this policy shall consult with and coordinate through the VPRI to register such UAVs.

University-owned UAVs must be purchased and/or registered under the correct legal name, “Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of the University of Nevada, Reno.”

B. Storage, Maintenance, and Insurance. The physical storage, maintenance, and flight-readiness preparation of university-owned UAVs shall be conducted by and be the responsibility of the department or unit that purchased the UAV; provided that if the UAV is purchased using grant funds, the Principal Investigator for such grant shall have primary responsibility. Any university-owned UAVs and related support equipment must be stored in appropriate secure facilities.

Damage to or loss of UAVs is not covered under the university’s self-insurance and thus must be separately insured. The department, unit, and/or PI that purchased the UAV shall be responsible for the costs of insuring the UAV. Procurement of insurance shall be through BCN Risk Management.

VI. Enforcement and Penalties

If anyone observes a violation of this policy, they shall notify University Police Services. Upon notification, Police Services will either dispatch someone from that department or request law enforcement to respond to the area to notify the operator of campus policy, and ensure the activity ceases. Police Services will take whatever other enforcement actions are necessary to maintain safety, including referral of the matter for disciplinary action.

Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action:

A. Student violations will be handled in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct, and may include sanctions up to and including expulsion
B. Faculty violations will be handled in accordance with Chapter 6 of the NSHE Code, and may include disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination
C. Staff violations will be handled in accordance with Chapter 284 of the Nevada Revised Statutes and applicable university policies, and may include discipline up to and including termination;
D. All other individuals found to have violated this policy shall be considered trespassers and may be dealt with accordingly, which may include being removed from campus and/or receiving a written directive to remain off campus.

Additionally, violation of local, state, or federal laws and regulations may result in detainment, prosecution, and/or fines by applicable authorities.