Drone Policy

I. Statement of Policy

Unmanned Aircraft Systems, including drones and model aircraft, offers valuable academic and recreational opportunities. Operation of UAS is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and by federal, state and local laws. The use of UAS is not permitted in any location on Stetson University's campus unless otherwise authorized via the process outlined in this policy. Anyone who seeks to operate UAS in relation to their educational program or activity while on Stetson University property or at any university-sponsored event must receive approval in advance in accordance with this policy.

II. Applicability of Policy

This policy applies to:

  • Stetson University employees and students operating UAS in any location as part of their employment or educational program or activity;
  • Any person operating UAS on or above Stetson University property;
  • Purchases of UAS with funding through Stetson University, including University accounts or grants; and
  • Hiring for or contracting UAS services by a Stetson University department or unit.

III. Definitions

333 Exemption

A FAA exemption based on Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which grants case-by-case authorization for certain unmanned aircraft to perform commercial operations within the National Airspace System.

Certificate of Authorization

A certificate granted to an individual or entity by the FAA which outlines specific conditions for flight. The FAA may insert provisions during the approval process to ensure the UAS can be operated safely.

Model Aircraft

An unmanned aircraft system that is flown for hobby or recreational purposes, capable of sustained flight, and flown within visual line of sight of the aircraft operator. Model aircraft must not exceed 55 pounds, and require FAA registration and appropriate marking prior to flight operation. Refer to Section 336 of the FFA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Locations where there is an objective expectation of privacy. Examples include, but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, sports fields during play or practice, internal areas of residence halls and health and medical facilities. Close-up, identifiable video or photos of persons is prohibited without their consent.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Any remotely operated or controlled aircraft intended to fly within the National Airspace System. Commonly referred to as drones, UAS may also include communications, support and navigational equipment and are regulated by the FAA regardless of size or weight. Model aircraft, a subset of UAS, have separate FAA regulations for operation. Refer to Section 336 off the FAA Modernization Reform Act of 2012.

IV. Responsible Office(s)

Office of Compliance and Risk Management

V. Policy Details


  1. All members of the Stetson University community are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and University policies.
  2. Any University student or employee who wishes to operate a UAS as part of University research or employment must first obtain authorization from Stetson University Office of Compliance and Risk Management.
    Note: When UAS are operated by members of the University as part of University research or within the context of an educational program or departmental activity, the related University Department may need to obtain approval from the FAA via the 333 exemption process. Additional state and local authorizations may also apply. – (See 333 Exemption Section)
  3. Any third party or hobbyist (including students or employees operating UAS for personal use) wishing to use a UAS or model aircraft over University property must first receive approval through the Office of Compliance & Risk Management. Third parties planning to use UAS must also provide proof of FAA and local airport approval, if applicable. Additionally, operation of a UAS or model aircraft over University property must be under a contract which indemnifies the University from any resulting claims for any injuries or damages resulting from the UAS use. A certificate of insurance reflecting liability coverage in the amount of $1M that is applicable to UAS use will also be required.
  4. When operating an UAS for the purposes of recording or transmitting visual images, operators must take all reasonable measures to avoid violations of privacy including University policy on Audio/Video Recording and local and state privacy laws. A reasonable expectation of privacy is applied within the University community.
  5. Any violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action. For students and employees, sanctions may lead up to and include separation from the University. For third parties and guests, sanctions may include removal from University property. Additionally, local, state, and federal prohibitions may also apply for the inappropriate use of UAS on University property or during university-sponsored events. Fines or damages incurred by individuals or departments that do not comply with this policy will not be paid by Stetson University and will be the responsibility of those persons involved.

VI. Related Policies and Resources

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Model Aircraft/Drones (hobbyist/recreational use)

Section 336 applies if the aircraft:

  1. is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use (including student use during class work unless the student is receiving any form of compensation for the operation);
  2. is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
  3. is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
  4. is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
  5. when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).

*The DeLand campus is located within five miles of the DeLand Municipal Airport.

Model Aircraft/Drones (commercial use)

Section 333 exemption requirement and application applies if the aircraft:

  1. is operated for compensation (i.e., business operations); or
  2. any compensation received is directly related or incidentally related to that person's operation of the aircraft (including marketing, faculty teaching flight training/operation courses, use for professional research objectives, etc.)