Policies & Procedures


Section 1

Physical Environment and Properties

Buildings and Grounds: General Use

Sec. 900-33: Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Procedures

Responsible Office: Environmental Health & Safety
February 2023

References / Resources

Contact: EHS - dronesafety@uci.edu or the UAS/Drone Safety Specialist at (949) 824-6200

A. Policy and Scope

  1. This procedure applies to all UCI faculty, students, staff, affiliates, and Non-Affiliates on UCI Property and/or UCI Business and details:
    1. how the UC Unmanned Aircraft System (Drone) Policy (Policy) is implemented at UCI; and
    2. the minimum requirements for the safe operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) on UCI Property. UCI is located less than five (5) miles from an airport which makes the UCI campus subject to additional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and John Wayne Airport UAS flight restrictions.
  2. Per UC policy, all SUAS and UAS flights on UCI Property or for UCI Business must:
    1. Be reviewed and documented, see Procedures below for details
    2. Follow the flight restrictions listed in the UCI EHS Unmanned Aircraft System/Drone Program
  3. Per UC policy, SUAS and UAS cannot be flown in UCI No Drone Zones without special authorization from UCI EHS.
  4. This procedure is subject for re-evaluation and updates upon the release of any new or updated SUAS or UAS safety regulation policy.

B. Definitions

Certificate of Authorization (COA)

An FAA grant of approval for a specific flight activity as defined by the COA. Organizations, including the University, may obtain a COA that permits flight activity that would otherwise be prohibited.


Any person who is not a student, officer, official volunteer, employee, or emeritus of the University of California, or a member of a household authorized to reside on University Property. Examples of non-affiliates include, but are not limited to, vendors, third-party vendors, and visitors.

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS)

An unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 lbs. and associated elements that are required to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

An unmanned aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. and additional associated elements that are required to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system. An unmanned/uncrewed 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 national airspace system (also known as drones or UAV ).

Recreational Use

The term “recreational use” or its derivatives, means operations conducted strictly for hobby or recreational purpose. Flights that are commercial in nature and are in furtherance of a business, regardless of compensation, are not considered “recreational.”

UCI Business

Official activities of the University that contribute to any one of the University’s major functions of teaching, research, patient care, or public service, or to any other non-recreational University purpose that may occur on UCI Property or any other location.

UCI Designated UAS Authority

The individual designated by the UCI EHS Executive Director as authorized to provide oversight for UCI related Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

UCI No Drone ZonesThe FAA and John Wayne Airport will not permit UAS to be flown in the following UCI campus locations:
  • Anteater Ballpart
  • Crawford Track and Field
  • Mesa Court Housing
  • North Campus

UCI Property

Any University-owned, -operated or -leased property, including all University grounds and structures where UCI Business or activities take place. This includes common areas in University Hills such as parks, open space, community center, etc.)

C. Procedures

  1. Campus Community and University-owned UAS Procedures
    1. UAS Flights for University Business:
      1. Create Profile: All faculty, students, and staff must create a profile and submit all UAS information to the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) UC UAS Safety Management System through the UC Drone Web App.
        • Follow the instructions as listed on the UC Drone New User Guide to:
          • Create a profile; and
          • Manage flights (Submitting a Flight Project or Flight request)
      2. Register UAS:
        • All University owned or fabricated  SUAS or UAS must be registered on the UC Drones Web App:
          • Follow the instructions as listed on the UC Drones New User Guide to register your UAS.
        • All personally owned or fabricated SUAS or UAS (for example, faculty using a privately owned vehicle for their research) must be registered with Risk Services: riskmgmt@uci.edu. The University’s insurance described below only covers personally owned UAS used for UC business if it is reported to and approved by the underwriter (via Risk Services).
      3. Flight submissions are subject to review by Environmental Health & Safety and Risk Services and UCOP Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety, and other departments as appropriate.
      4. Flight Submissions for UAS, unmanned aircraft systems over 55 pounds may additional restrictions apply and are subject to review by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS), Risk Services, UCOP Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety, and other departments as appropriate.
      5. A post-flight report must be submitted for EHS review as soon as feasible after the flight through the UC Drone Web App
      6. Any incidents that result in injury or property damage must be immediately reported via email to safety@uci.edu.
      7. Insurance and Liability:
        The University of California has purchased an Unmanned Aircraft System Liability Policy for University Business fklights. Coverage details and requirements can be found on the UC UAS Insurance Website.
    2. SUAS and UAS Flights for Personal/Recreational Use:

      All faculty, students, and staff flying UAS for personal/recreational are subject to: Part C.1.a.i, a.ii, a.iii., a.iv., and a.v above; and the insurance requirements for Non-Affiliates detailed on the UC UAS Insurance Website under 3rd Party Insurance minimum.

  2. Non-Affiliates:
    1. Are subject to the UC Unmanned Aircraft System (Drone) Policy and UCI's implementation of the UC Policy (see Part A. of this procedure);
    2. Are not covered by any existing agreements that the FAA has granted to the University unless explicitly stated; and
    3. Must meet all the following UCI Non-Affiliate SAUS or UAS flight approval requirements:
      1. Comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the safe use and operation, including:
        • Per FAA regulations, obtaining authorization to operate (which may include, but is not limited to, a Part 61 Certificate, Part 107 Certificate or a TRUST certificate, depending on the type of operation);
        • Registering any and all drones as described by the FFA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) site; 
        • Obtain your own flight authorizations from the FAA and John Wayne Airport.
      2. Submit a temporary UAS flight request to dronesafety@uci.edu with the following information:
        • Contact name
        • Contact email
        • Purpose of flight(s)
        • Name of pilot
        • Proposed:
          • UCI location of flight
          • Number of flights
          • Flight date(s)
          • Time of data that flight(s) started
          • Total duration of flight(s)
      3. Provide proof of insurance to UCI that meets the requirements in the 3rd Party Insurance Minimum section on the UC UAS Insurance website.
    4. May only proceed with their flight(s) if and when:
      • all items under Part C.2.c above have been completed; and
      • flight approval is received from dronesafety@uci.edu.
    5. Must submit a post-flight report as soon as possible to dronesafety@uci.edu
    6. Immediately report any accident that results in injury or property damage to safety@uci.edu
    7. Must, upon request, present confirmation of flight approval from dronesafety@uci.edu and copies of FFA and John Wayne Airport authorizations