Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

The use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) provide faculty and student researchers access to data that may enhance research projects within existing courses, enable undergraduate capstone and Master’s thesis projects, and permit research that answers significant questions benefiting the state of California, the nation, and beyond.

The use of UAS’s offer faculty, students, staff and volunteers at SSU valuable opportunities to acquire data inexpensively in a wide range of disciplines. In addition to experience associated with programming/flying UAV’s, student researchers benefit from the design, selection, and operation of data sensors and from the post-processing and analyses of sensor data.

While the use of UAS’s has enormous research potential, their use requires strict observance of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, as this agency controls all navigable airspace within the United States. The FAA established specific regulations for Small UAV’s (UAV) under 14 CFR Part 107 effective August 29, 2016.

All University employees, students, and visitors must comply with FAA regulations and SSU policy in order to operate an UAS on University property or at University sanctioned events or under any project being done under the University name.

The UAV Review Board is responsible for the review, approval and oversight of UAV/UAS operations at SSU. An approval from the UAV Review Board provides a minimum level of assurance that the operators are aware of the additional FAA requirements, and are prepared and capable of operating the UAV safely and responsibly. Only operations approved by the UAV Review Board are permitted under this policy.

Federal Policy Guidance

Current UAV Review Board Membership

How to submit an application for UAS use

The following steps outline the process to gain approval to use UAS’s for research:

  1. The Principal Investigator (PI) develops the Flight Operations Proposal (FOP) and submits Application for Purchase and Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems.
  2. Upon approval of the Flight Operations Proposal by the UAV Review Board, an approval letter (or denial) will be delivered to the applicant.
  3. The applicant may then purchase the UAV/UAS through the Electronic Requisition process.
  4. Flight operations may commence provided all FAA Part 107 regulations are followed throughout every component of operations and provided that a UAV Certified Pilot is present.

Flight Operations Proposals (FOP) should minimally address the following elements:

  1. Purpose, nature (research, instruction, other) and goals of the work to be undertaken.
  2. Need for a UAS/UAV.
  3. Type of vehicle(s) and equipment to be utilized and the manner in which they will be operated.
  4. The identity of the FAA certified UAV pilot(s) who serves as UAV pilot or observer.
  5. Date(s)/Schedule of activities to be undertaken.
  6. Locale(s) and flight plan for operations.
  7. All forms of data (including imagery) to be collected.
  8. Provisions for security of the equipment, both during and outside of operation, and of any sensitive data collected.
  9. Sources and nature of financial support.
  10. Communications plan for notifying campus police, local landowners, and police agencies, as appropriate, in the overflight radius of planned operations each time a UAV is flown.

Careful consideration should also be given to other issues such as airworthiness, training, and access to requisite personnel, such as qualified visual observers.

All accidents that result in injury, property damage or vehicle repair must be reported to the UAV Review Board and Campus Police within 24 hours of the incident.