Risk Management & Insurance


UAS & Drones

aerial photo of land and sea

Drones for Research & Business

Technological advances have led to a significant increase in the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (commonly known as drones) on University campuses for research, educational, scientific, and business purposes. Drones are used for infrastructure inspections, agriculture surveys, digital archeology, photography, jour¬nalism, etc. The use of drones for such purposes will increase in the coming years. Federal laws and regulations that govern their use are extensive and complex. University faculty, staff, and students who use University drones must comply with these laws and regulations. Employees who do not operate University drones legally may have no coverage under the University’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Liability Insurance and may be held personally liable for claims or losses arising out of their activities. This webpage contains information about how to use University drones legally and safely for research, educational, scientific, and business purposes.

Flying for Fun or Recreation

Go to UAS & Drones: Flying for Fun or Recreation if you want to fly a drone or model aircraft on-campus for fun or recreation.

UC Center of Excellence on UAS Safety

The University has established the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety to provide assistance to University faculty, staff, students, and unaffiliated people who want to use drones for research, educational, scientific, or business purposes. This section describes how the Center can help drone users get approval to operate University drones on and off campus and how to plan flight operations so that they comply with Federal laws and regulations. The Center also advises users about drone registration, pilot-licensing requirements, and risk management concerns that bear on the safe operation of drones. The Center coordinates the approval process with the UCSB Police and the UCSB Risk Management Office for the use of University drones on and off the UCSB campus. The Center is authorized to grant approval for University of California UAS operations in the US.

Director Brandon Stark, UC Merced
Email: UASSafety@ucmerced.edu
Email: bstark@ucmerced.edu
Phone: (209) 201-2051
Website: OPRS: UC UAS Safety
Contact erm@ucop.edu to be added to the UC-UAS-RESEARCH-L listserv

Approving Drone Use for Research & Business

At UCSB, the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety must review and approve all use of University drones for research, educational, scientific, or business purposes by UCSB faculty, staff, and students. The UC Center of Excellence coordinates approval of University drones with the UCSB Police Department and the campus Risk Management office to ensure that flight operations are legal and safe.

UC EMPLOYEES & STUDENTS

  1. UC faculty, staff, and students who want to fly University drones on or off campus for research, educational, scientific, or business purposes must first register them with the FAA. See Registering Drones below for information about the registration process..
  2. After the drone is registered with the FAA, go to the UC Drone Web App to register the drone with the University and to create and submit a Flight Request application. The Flight Request should be submitted at least a week in advance of the planned flight. The App User Guide contains instructions on the use of the UC Drone Web App.
  3. The UC Center of Excellence will review the Flight Request application. The Center may suggest changes to the proposed flight operations to bring the flight into compliance with Federal law and regulations or to make it consistent with best practices.
  4. The applicant must revise the Flight Request to comply with the Center’s recommendations and resubmit the Flight Request to the Center for a final review.
  5. The Center will submit its recommendation to approve or deny the Flight Request application to the UCSB Police and the UCSB Risk Management office.
  6. The UCSB Police and Risk Management will review the Center’s recommendation and inform the Center of their decision to approve or deny the Flight Request application.
  7. The Center will inform the applicant that the Flight Request application has been approved or denied.
  8. If the Flight Request is approved, the applicant must comply with the Center’s final recommendations
  9. 9) At the conclusion of the flight, the applicant must complete a Flight Report through the UC Drone Web App.

NON-EMPLOYEES & NON-STUDENTS

  1. Non-employees and non-students who want to fly non-University drones on campus for research, educational, scientific, or business purposes must first register them with the FAA.
  2. After the drone has been registered with the FAA, non-employees and non-students must complete and submit a Flight Request form to the Center. (Non-employees and non-students do not have access to the UC Drone Web App and cannot use it to submit a Flight Request application to the UC Center of Excellence).
  3. The UC Center of Excellence will review the Flight Request form. The Center may suggest changes to the proposed flight operations to bring the flight into compliance with Federal law and regulations or to make it consistent with best practices.
  4. The applicant must revise the Flight Request form to comply with the Center’s recommendations and resubmit it to the Center for a final review.
  5. The Center will submit its recommendation to approve or deny the Flight Request application to the UCSB Police and the UCSB Risk Management office.
  6. The UCSB Police and Risk Management will review the Center’s recommendation and inform the Center of their decision to approve or deny the Flight Request application.
  7. The Center will inform the applicant that the Flight Request form has been approved or denied.
  8. If the Fight Request is approved, the applicant must comply with the Center’s final recommendations.
  9. At the conclusion of the flight, the applicant must complete and submit a Flight Report form.

Registering Drones

All University-owned unmanned aircraft systems that weigh more than 0.55 lbs. are required by law to be registered with the FAA. All University-owned UAS and any non-University owned drone flown on the UCSB campus must be registered with the UC Center of Excellence.

REGISTERING RECREATIONAL DRONES WITH THE FAA

  • All drones that weigh more than 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 lbs. must be registered with the FAA at https://registermyuas.faa.gov.
  • Drones that weigh more than 55 lbs. must be registered with the FAA using a paper form (contact the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety for details).
  • Drones that will be used for non-recreational purposes (scientific research, education, business) must have their own individual registration number).
  • The registration number must be on the drone before it is flown and the number must located so as to be visible, clear and legible.
  • “The Regents of the University of California” must be identified as the owner of drones owned and operated by UCSB or campus departments when they are registered with the FAA.

REGISTERING DRONES WITH THE UC CENTER OF EXCELLENCE

  • Faculty, staff, and students must register University-owned drones with the UC Center of Excellence using the UC Drone Web App.
  • Non-employees and students must register non-University-owned drones with the UC Center of Excellence when they complete the Flight Request application form.

UC Drone Web App

The UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety has developed a UC Drone Web App to streamline the drone registration, flight approval, and flight reporting processes. The App is designed to be used by UC faculty, staff, and students when they operate University drones. Go to https://ehs.ucop.edu/, sign in and select the Drone symbol. The App is not available to non-University employees and students. The App User Guide contains instructions on the use of the UC Drone Web App. The Web App has the following features:

MANAGE FLIGHT REQUESTS

  • Select pilot, aircraft, and location; submit flight request.
  • Add comments and attach supplementary files.
  • If flight operations change, edit flight request info and add documents.
  • Status of flight request communicated by email.

MANAGE FLIGHT REPORTS

  • Submit flight report without having to reenter previously entered info.
  • Log abnormal operations or incidents.
  • Log aircraft damage.
  • Reports for completed flights are maintained and can be viewed at any time.

MANAGE PILOT/CREW MEMBER REGISTRATION

  • Register with campus and input certificate and qualifications.
  • Update pilot registration.
  • Qualification standards are under development.
  • Crew management features will be added in a future release.

MANAGE AIRCRAFT

  • Register UAS to person/organization/department and track flight activity.

MANAGE BY WEB APP ADMINISTRATOR

  • Review, approve, or deny flight requests.
  • Register other people as pilots/crew members.
  • Add and manage aircraft.
  • Add comments or documents.

If you have any comments or questions, submit them to the App developers at erm@ucop.edu or to the Center at uassafety@ucmerced.edu.

Use of Drones on Campus

FAA regulations prohibit the use of drones for non-recreational purposes within 5 nautical miles of the Santa Barbara Airport (which encompasses all of UCSB, Isla Vista, Goleta and parts of Santa Barbara) (see FS: Exclusion Zone Around Airport).

The FAA and the Santa Barbara Airport have agreed to allow the use of drones on the UCSB campus by UCSB faculty, students, and staff as long as the drone operator’s proposed flight plan is approved as required above in Approving Drone Use for Research & Business.

During the course of the approval process the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety, the UCSB Police, and the UCSB Risk Management Office will review the proposed UAS flight plan. The flight plan is subject to their approval and cannot proceed without it.

All on-campus drone flights are restricted to the area south of Campbell Hall and to the west of Steck Traffic Circle (see FS: Drone Operations on Campus) at a maximum altitude of 100 ft. AGL (due to the proximity of the airport).

The Santa Barbara Airport must be notified of all on-campus UAS flights in advance of the flight. The Airport also requires notification that the flight has concluded. The UAS operator will be given the number to call at the Airport and the coordination procedures after the flight plan has been approved and authorized.

University-Owned UAS Insurance

Go to UCSB: UAS Liability Insurance for information about how University-owned UASs are insured.