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45.35 - University of Idaho Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”)


  • Position: Office of Research Assurances Director
  • Email:

Last updated: May 07, 2024


A. Purpose
B. Scope
C. Definitions
D. Policy
E. Insurance
F. UAS Committee Authority & Responsibilities
G. Vice President of Research Authority & Responsibilities
H. Contact Information

A. Purpose. This policy ensures that the use of any unmanned aircraft system for University business complies with federal, state, and local rules and regulations.

B. Scope

B-1. Applicable. This policy applies to University employees, third parties, visitors, and students operating UAS on behalf of the university.

B-2. Not Applicable. This policy does not apply to personal use of UAS by University employees, students, or third parties on University property, including but not limited to recreational or hobby flight of model aircraft. See APM 95.35 and 35.35 for information on personal use of UAS on University property.

C. Definitions

C-1. Certification of Waiver; Certificate of Authorization (“COA”) means a Federal Aviation Administration grant of approval for a specific unmanned aircraft flight operation. Standard use of a UAS under 14 CFR Part 107 does not require a COA.

C-2. Civil Operation means any UAS operation falling outside the scope of a public aircraft operation, such as an operation involving a commercial purpose or an operation involving research or other institutional activity outside the definition of governmental function.

C-3. Commercial Purpose means the transportation of persons or property or other use of UAS for compensation or hire.

C-4. Governmental Function means an activity undertaken by a government, such as national defense, intelligence missions, firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement (including transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens), aeronautical research, biological or geological resource management.

C-5. Public Operation COA means a COA granted by the FAA for a public aircraft operation. Public aircraft operations are those conducted by a public agency, like the University, in furtherance of a governmental function.

C-6. Responsible Party means a university employee, third party, visitor, or student operating UAS on behalf of the University.

C-7. Unmanned Aircraft System (“UAS”) means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft and associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the navigable airspace of the United States under the regulatory authority of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”).

C-8. VPRED means the university’s Vice President for Research and Economic Development or designee.

D. Policy

D-1. No indoor or outdoor use of a UAS may be undertaken by a Responsible Party without:

a. Prior review by the UAS Committee;

b. Prior approval by the VPRED and, if necessary,

c. Approval by the FAA of a COA or any other authorizations or exemptions applicable to the University use as required by FAA regulations.

D-2. Compliance with FAA regulations, laws, and policies. The Responsible Party is personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and University policies with respect to the use of UAS. Any waivers required from the FAA to conduct UAS flights must be obtained by the Responsible Party before flights occur.

D-3. Drones weighing more than 55 lbs. Use of a drone weighing more than 55 lbs at takeoff is not permitted unless the Responsible Party first obtains an exception or authorization from the FAA and receives approval as stated in D-1.

E. Insurance

E-1. Liability insurance required. UAS liability insurance is required before any UAS activity by a Responsible Party may be carried out.

E-2. UAS owned by University. A UAS owned by the university must be added to the University’s insurance coverage via the Risk Management website before any flights are conducted.

E-3. UAS not owned by University. A Responsible Party using a UAS not owned by the University must provide proof of insurance coverage that lists the University as a covered party and provides coverage that meets the requirements set by the state of Idaho.

F. UAS Committee authority and responsibilities

F-1. UAS Committee

a. The UAS Committee is an ad-hoc committee established by the President to advise the VPRED, who acts on behalf of the President in matters related to the use of UAS. The Committee is appointed by and reports to the VPRED. The UAS Committee is the principal mechanism by which the University ensures that it is meeting its obligations under federal and state law applicable to UAS use and under any COA approved by the FAA and that ethical issues related to UAS use are given due consideration before use.

b. The UAS Committee may, with the assistance of ORA and subject to approval by the VPRED, develop and implement:

1. Standard operating procedures for use and operation of UAS;

2. Procedures for expedited approval of UAS use;

3. Procedures for submission of a proposal to the UAS Committee;

4. Procedures for appeal to the VPRED of any denial of aproposed UAS use by the UAS Committee; and

5. Internal rules and procedures for the operation and administration of the UAS Committee, as may be consistent with this policy.

F-2. UAS proposed use reviews

a. Procedures. The UAS Committee will review and make a formal recommendation to the VPRED regarding any proposed use of UAS by a Responsible Party. The UAS Committee will consider the legal and ethical issues related to the UAS use and apply relevant law, guidance from federal agencies, etc., in determining whether a proposed use should be recommended to the VPRED for approval. The Committee’s review may:

1. Recommend the proposed use for approval by the VPR as described in the application;

2. Require modification to the application/proposed use before recommending it for approval by the VPR;

3. Recommend that the proposed use should be denied; or

4. Deny the proposed use. See subjection section c. below.

b. Approvals. The UAS Committee shall only recommend for approval those uses that it reasonably believes:

1. To be a Governmental Function and therefore eligible for a Public Operations COA;

2. To be within those areas of activity covered by other authorizations or exemptions that may be granted by the FAA to the University for Civil Operations, including Part 107;

3. To be within the Model Aircraft Rule for educational use; or

4. To be covered by an authorization by the FAA for Civil Operations held by a third party, subject to an agreement between the University and third party with respect to such services.

c. Denied use by the UAS Committee. The UAS Committee may deny a proposed UAS use on the basis of factors including, but not limited to:

1. The proposed use raises risk or ethical issues;

2. The proposed use constitutes a Commercial Purpose;

3. The proposed use is not a Governmental Function eligible for coverage by a Public Operations COA;

4. The proposed use is not covered by other forms of authorization by the FAA for Civil Operation of UAS; or

5. The proposed use is prohibited by law without written consent of the individual or the owner of a farm, dairy, or other agricultural industry, and such consent has not or cannot be obtained.

d. Appeal of UAS Committee denied use. If the UAS Committee denies a proposed use, the denial may be appealed, in writing, to the VPRED. Any proposed use which the UAS Committee determines needs modification may be recommended for approval, following completion of any required modifications.

e. Ongoing review. The UAS Committee, with the assistance of the Office of Research Assurances, shall provide ongoing review of any use approved by the VPRED and covered by a COA or other forms of authorization provided by the FAA.

F-3. Suspension or termination of approvals. The Committee may recommend suspension or termination of any use it deems inconsistent with the use approved by the VPRED or the requirements of the applicable COA or other authorization granted by the FAA. Authority to suspend or terminate any previously approved use rests solely with the VPRED.

G. Vice President of Research authority and responsibilities

G-1. In general. The VPRED is the individual at the University empowered to approve proposed UAS use by Responsible Parties. The UAS Committee is appointed by and reports to the VPRED.

G-2. UAS use approval. Any proposed use of UAS recommended for approval by the UAS Committee shall be reviewed by the VPRED and approved or denied. Only UAS use approved by the VPRED may be undertaken by a Responsible Party. Denials of use by the VPR are final and cannot be appealed.

G-3. COA, waivers or similar applications to the FAA. Only the VPRED may apply for a Public Operations COA or similar application after consultation with the Office of General Counsel. In some cases, the Responsible Party may apply for a Public Operations COA or similar application, but only with written approval and authorization from the VPRED.

G-4. Suspension or termination of approvals. The VPRED may, at their sole discretion, suspend or terminate any previous approval of UAS under this policy on the basis that actual use is inconsistent with the previous grant of approval by the VPRED or the requirements of an applicable COA.

G-5. Signature authority. Only the VPRED is authorized to sign permits or agreements authorizing UAS usage on university or non-university property. See FSH 3170, B-9.

H. Contact Information. For further information regarding implementation of this policy, contact the Office of Research Assurances, the UAS Committee, or visit the University UAS website.

Version History

Campus Locations

Physical Address:
Bruce M. Pitman Center
875 Perimeter Drive MS 4264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264

Phone: 208-885-6111

Fax: 208-885-9119