Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Pilot Guidance

This page provides guidance for UAS pilots.

Qualifications

All UAS operated on UW premises or in connection with UW-related activities must be operated by an individual who has the requisite certifications and experience necessary to conduct the UAS operation lawfully and safely. In most cases, such operations must be conducted by an individual who maintains a valid remote pilot certificate issued by the FAA (the "Remote Pilot in Command", or "RPIC"), unless an exception is granted by the UAS Ethics and Safety Committee in circumstances permitted by applicable law. The UAS Ethics and Safety Committee may require a minimum level of flight experience for UAS pilots, including those holding a RPIC certification, as a prerequisite to approving an application for UAS operation if deemed necessary to ensure the UAS operation can be safely conducted.

Safe Operations

The RPIC associated with an approved application is responsible for ensuring the UAS operation is conducted safely and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements. While administrative or law enforcement personnel may overrule the RPIC's determination that a UAS operation can be safely or lawfully conducted, the RPIC's determination that an approved UAS operation cannot be conducted safely or lawfully may not be overridden by any other person or body. Similarly, in cases where the UAS Ethics and Safety Committee approves an application for UAS operations in which the operation will be conducted by someone other than a person holding a valid RPIC certification, the applicant fulfills the role of RPIC and is responsible for ensuring the operation is conducted safely and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements. While administrative or law enforcement personnel may overrule the applicant's determination that a UAS operation can be safely or lawfully conducted, the applicant's determination that an approved UAS operation cannot be conducted safely or lawfully may not be overridden by any other person or body.

Land-Owner Permissions

Prior to each flight, all UAS operators must ensure that they obtain written permission from the owner of any property that will be occupied or overflown during the flight if on non-UW owned land. UW personnel should use the form provided in Property Owner Permission Form to obtain property owner permission for UAS operations occurring on private property. For flights on the UW campus, permission must be obtained from the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration or designee. For flights at off-campus UW premises, permission must be obtained from the Dean's or Director's office of the School, College, Division or Center with oversight of such lands.

Accident/Incident Report

All UAS operators are expected to adhere to the operating plan of the approved application as well as any limitations imposed by the Committee. UW-affiliated UAS operators must report to the FAA any UAS accident involving serious injury to persons or any loss of consciousness, or property damage of $500 or more (not including the value of the UAS), no later than ten (10) days after the accident at the following website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/report_accident/. UW-affiliated UAS operators must also report to the UAS Ethics and Safety Committee all accidents involving any injury to persons, any damage to property (other than the UAS), any incidents in which UAS operations could reasonably raise privacy concerns, and any incidents involving loss of command and/or control of a UAS that resulted in a deviation from the approved operating plan. Reportable events will be submitted by UAS operators to the Committee using a template report form (see Appendix D). In order to encourage reporting and promote a culture of safety, this additional reporting requirement is intended to be non-punitive.

Contractor/consultant reporting

Contractors or planning and design consultants operating UAS on UW premises or in connection with UW activities are required to comply with FAA reporting requirements for incidents involving UAS operations and must agree to provide the UW with a copy of any such reports as a prerequisite for approval to conduct such UAS operations.

Class C Airspace

Note that approximately half of the UW–Madison campus lies within the surface Class C Airspace associated with the Dane County Regional Airport. Within this airspace, FAA authorization is mandatory in order to fly a UAS. The following web portal is the only allowed method for requesting an airspace authorization: www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver.[1]

Commercial Use Process: Individuals or companies flying on campus for commercial purposes, other than construction related (e.g. media filming), should fill out the Authorization to Operate UAS on UW Lands for Commercial Purposes.

  1. ^ Note also that a large percentage of airspace authorization requests have reportedly been denied. It can take at least 90 days for waiver approvals.