REG 10.10.09 – Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Authority: Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Economic Development

History: First Issued: July 21, 2015. Last Revised: March 15, 2017.

Related Policies:
NCSU POL10.00.01 – Patent and Tangible Research Policy

Additional References:
NC State Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Information
Unmanned Aerial System Notification Form
Individual Hobby Use Notification Site
UAS Resources



Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) offer great potential as tools for research and teaching.  This regulation establishes a framework for identifying, managing, and mitigating risk when using UAS, in order to ensure compliance with all State and Federal laws and regulations, and in furtherance of NC State’s institutional goals and objectives.


When used in this regulation the following definitions shall apply:

2.1 “Departments and Units” include NC State colleges, departments, units, programs, centers and institutes, as well as their designated University employees.

2.2 “University Activity” means any activity or use by a NC State Department and Unit for the purpose of education, instruction, photography, research, or extension activities.

2.3 “Unmanned Aircraft” means a device used or intended to be used for flight in the air that has no onboard pilot.  Unmanned aircraft do not include balloons, rockets, or unpowered gliders.

2.4 “Unmanned Aircraft System” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements including communication links and components that control the unmanned aircraft and are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently.

2.5 “University premises” means buildings or grounds owned, leased, operated, controlled or managed by NC State.


This regulation applies to all University Activities involving the use and operation of UAS.  This regulation also applies to individuals when flying UAS for hobby or recreational purposes on University premises.


4.1 The Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Economic Development and the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology (collectively “Vice Chancellors”) shall have joint oversight of all operations of UAS for University activities.

4.2 Because of the potential legal and risk management issues involved in operating UAS, and in order to comply with federal and state laws and regulations, all Departments and Units that intend to use UAS for University Activities shall provide a written summary of the proposed activities to the Vice Chancellors or their designee at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of the first intended use. Any substantial change to these proposed activities (e.g., change in type of aircraft, location, or activities conducted) shall require additional notification.  If the proposed activities will last longer than one (1) year, the Department or Unit must submit a new summary for the activities each year.

4.3 The Vice Chancellors shall appoint a UAS Advisory Group consisting of at least one representative from the College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University Police, Institute for Transportation Research and Education, and the Director, Insurance and Risk Management as members, which shall serve as an advisory body to the Vice Chancellors on University UAS Activities. The Advisory Group shall be responsible for reviewing and recommending rules, procedures and standards for UAS operation to the Vice Chancellors.

4.4 In situations where a University UAS activity is to be conducted in airspace over land not owned or controlled by NC State, a Memorandum of Understanding between the university and the landowner must be negotiated and signed prior to UAS use.

4.5 A safety risk assessment must be conducted by the Department or Unit before any UAS activity.  All UAS incidents must be reported to the Department Head, Unit Director, or Dean of the applicable college, as well to the Director, Insurance and Risk Management, within twenty-four (24) hours after an incident has occurred.


5.1 Persons who wish to operate UAS on University premises for hobby or recreational purposes must provide the Office of Insurance and Risk Management with the following information at least three (3) University business day before the proposed date of the use:  the name of the UAS pilot, the type of UAS to be flown, the dates and locations where the UAS will be operated, and the names of all individuals who will be participating in the activity.

5.2 The following list provides the designated areas for hobby or recreational use of UAS at NC State:  Individual Hobby Use Notification Site

5.3 Unless identified as a designated area, no person shall operate a UAS on, in or over any University premises.  Exceptions may be granted by Office of Insurance and Risk Management after consulting with the Office of General Counsel.