Operation of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), also referred to as a drone, is governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). UAS flights are regulated differently depending on their purpose: commercial use, public use, or hobby/recreational use.
All flight by UGA faculty or staff related to research is considered commercial use by the FAA.The FAA recently adopted new regulations that make it easier to fly a small UAS for commercial purposes. The requirements are:
- The UAS must:
- Weigh less than 55 pounds
- Undergo pre-flight check by the pilot in command to ensure safety of the aircraft
- Be registered with the FAA via the Online UAS Registration
- Each UAS flight must have an identified pilot in command. The pilot must:
- Hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating (or be under the direct supervision of someone with one)
- Obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate – FAQ
- The location of the flight must:
- Be in Class G airspace –OR–
- Be authorized by Air Traffic Control if in Class B, C, D, or E airspace
(Note that all of the UGA main campus in Athens is within Class D airspace)
To discuss next steps and additional operational guidelines, UGA faculty and staff who would like to fly a UAS for research purposes should contact Matt Wells, Legal Advisor in the Office for Research: firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-542-3255.