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WVU-PD-6 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) ("Drones")

  1. Purpose and Scope

    1. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has amended its regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) through Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 C.F.R.) Part 107. Part 107 addresses the classification of sUAS, certification of sUAS remote pilots, and sUAS operational limitations.
    2. Because sUAS are important tools for many different types of activities, West Virginia University is formalizing the process to manage sUAS operations and ensure compliance with all State and Federal laws and regulations.
    3. This Policy ensures that the University has clear lines of authority and well-defined internal processes to identify, manage, and mitigate risk, and to ensure safe and legal operation of sUAS in furtherance of its institutional goals and objectives.
    4. This Policy applies to West Virginia University faculty, staff, other employees, and students using or proposing to use sUAS for official University activities. This Policy also applies to any sUAS operations on/over property owned or managed by the University.
  2. Policy

    1. Statement: Operation of any sUAS on any property owned, managed, or controlled by the West Virginia University Board of Governors for any purpose, or by individuals or entities on behalf of West Virginia University or its divisional campuses for official University-related business, is prohibited unless first approved by the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer as detailed below.
    2. University Certificate of Authorization (COA) Application:
      1. Anyone seeking to operate a sUAS on any property owned, managed, or controlled by the West Virginia Board of Governors or for official University-sponsored purposes must first receive written approval from the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer at University Police in the form of a University COA.
      2. Another University administrator will be appointed by the Provost’s Office to assist the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer in processing a request and conducting an assessment of the application when the drone usage involves research or academic initiatives or curriculum. Other necessary University experts may be consulted as necessary to assist in evaluating the application.
      3. All operators must submit a completed application for a University COA in the format reflected in Exhibit A and containing all required information to drones@mail.wvu.edu or 992 Elmer Prince Drive, P.O. Box 6563, Morgantown, WV 26506-6563 at least ten (10) business days in advance of the proposed small UA operation.
    3. Processing University COA Applications.
      1. The sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer will process the request and conduct an assessment of the initial application. The sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer, and other University administrators when necessary, will consider, among other factors, the following in the assessment:
        1. Whether the proposed sUAS activities are consistent with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations and policy requirements. This includes but is not limited to FAA requirements, state law governing the safe operation of aircraft, and related University policies and procedures;
        2. Whether the proposed sUAS activities present a risk of injury to persons, damage to property or facilities, or interference with or disruption of activities and whether the proposed operations are addressed by current University insurance policies;
        3. Whether the proposed sUAS activities would monitor or record activities where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy;
        4. Whether proposed sUAS activities would sufficiently relate to official University related business or further the mission and objectives of West Virginia University;
        5. The type of sUAS to be utilized and the manner in which it will be operated.
      2. Notwithstanding compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies, the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer reserves the right to deny the application in whole or in part.
    4. University COA Decision.
      1. Upon completing a review of the COA application, the applicant will be notified of a decision or receive a request for additional information within five (5) business days.
      2. If additional information is needed to process the application, the applicant must submit the information within two (2) business days before the proposed sUAS operations are expected to commence.
      3. If final approval is granted, the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer will issue a University COA approval letter. A copy of the University COA approval letter must be in possession of the operator at all times during the sUAS operations and must be presented to any University official or representative with control or jurisdiction over the activity, upon request.
      4. If required, for those operating under the rules governing hobby or recreational operations, the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer will assist the requestor in drafting and obtaining appropriate Letters of Agreement with Air Traffic Control officials for recurring or long-term sUAS operations.
      5. University COAs expire one year after issuance, unless otherwise specified.
      6. COA holders must submit an amended COA application when any required information changes or requires updating and sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer reserves the right to deny the amended COA application in whole or in part.
    5. Accident Reporting
      1. The Remote Pilot in Command (Remote PIC) of the sUAS is required to report an accident to University Police Department at 304-293-2677 immediately if it meets any of the following thresholds: (a) Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness. (b) Visible damage to any property, other than the small UA, if the cost to either repair or replace the property exceeds $500.
      2. The accident report shall also be submitted to the sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer within 24 hours in the format reflected in Exhibit B.
      3. The sUAS (Drone) Operations Officer will evaluate the accident report and assist the Remote PIC or operator file a report with the FAA and/or NTSB, if necessary or appropriate. The Remote PIC will be expected to cooperate in the process.
    6. Violations of the University COA Policy
      1. The operator and his/her affiliates are subject at all times to all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and University standards. Individuals violating this Policy will be held accountable for their actions, which may include but is not limited to: (a) Volunteers are subject to reprimand or loss of volunteer status; (b) Students are subject to the University Student Conduct and Discipline Policy under BOG Policy 31 (or its successor); or (c) Staff, faculty, and student employees are subject to corrective action up to and including termination. If an operator operates an sUAS in a manner not consistent with this Policy and/or an approved usage, then University Police reserves the right to ask the operator to land the sUAS immediately. Furthermore, University Police reserves the right to ask any individual operating an sUAS on property owned or managed by the University (whether approved or not) to land the sUAS at any time.
  3. Definitions

    1. Small Unmanned Aircraft (UA). A UA weighing less than 55 pounds, including everything that is onboard or otherwise attached to the aircraft, and can be flown without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.
    2. Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS). A small UA and its associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the small UA) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the small UA in the NAS.
  4. Authority

    1. WVU BOG Policy 16, Use of Institutional Facilities (or its successor).
  5. Cross References

    1. 14 C.F.R Part 107; FAA Advisory Circular 107-2; FAA Chief Counsel Memorandum, Educational Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), May 4, 2016; FAA News, Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107), June 21, 2016, available at https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf; FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/; 49 U.S.C. §§ 40102(a)(41), 40125; FAA Advisory Circular 00-1.1A.
    2. Supersedes: This Policy all other policies, procedures or guidelines at the University to the extent those documents are inconsistent with and fall under the scope of this Policy.