Frequently Asked Questions

Policies and Procedures

What are Princeton’s policies regarding sUAS flights?

Princeton University has a policy covering sUAS flights for education, research, business operations, and recreation on the campus. All flights must adhere to the applicable FAA regulations and University policy, whether conducted by University personnel or visitors.  All sUAS flights located outdoors or in indoor common areas require approval.

What happens after I submit a request to fly a sUAS on campus?

Requests are first evaluated to determine the relevant FAA authorization category (e.g., Part 107, Section 336, Section 333), if intended for outdoor flight, and ensure that the proposed flight is in compliance with that framework. That determination establishes the operational conditions, necessary credentials, and restrictions. All proposed flights, indoors or outdoors, are evaluated with respect to Princeton's sUAS Policy with a focus on safety, security and privacy for the campus. Space is reserved, when available, and with the approval of the relevant campus leadership. Operations conducted by third-party invitees require additional information and assurances. You will receive a response approving or declining your request within approximately 2 weeks.

What type of operations are allowed by Section 336?

Students may operate sUAS as part of their education at an accredited institution of higher education in accordance with Section 336 regulations. Student independent research projects and coursework are covered activities. Example projects could involve the research, design and testing of custom-built unmanned aircraft and related control and sensor systems or the use of an unmanned aircraft in film or photography.

Recreational or hobby use of sUAS is authorized, provided that the activities follow the special rules for model aircraft as defined in Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. 

What type of operations are allowed with Part 107?

A variety of commercial sUAS operations are covered by Part 107, including activities such as federally-funded research projects, professional filming, building inspections, and other non-recreational projects. Operators under Part 107 must have a remote pilot certificate or be operated under the direct supervision of a person with that credential.

See our blog post for more information on what is covered by the Section 336 and Part 107 regulations, and how they compare. 

Can I hire a third party to fly a sUAS on campus?

Yes, provided that the third-party operator has the appropriate authorizations and University approval for the flight operations. Third-party operations will require a signed contract between the entity and the sponsoring department.

How far in advance should flight requests be made? 

Plan ahead for all flights to ensure that everything goes smoothly. For flights on campus, submit your requests 2 weeks prior to the first proposed flight.  The request submission begins the process for securing field reservations, flight approval, and providing relevant notifications. Multiple dates and times may be requested at a single time, which is often necessary in the event of adverse weather. 

Where to Fly

Where can I fly?

On Campus: UAVs can be flown in several locations on campus with permission from the sUAS Management Team. Most flights can be accommodated on one of the preferred field locations; privacy, safety and security limit other parts of the campus due to the proximity of buildings and people.

Off Campus: When planning to fly off campus, the sUAS operator is responsible for obtaining the necessary permissions and abiding by any applicable regulations. 

The FAA has developed a mobile app called B4UFLY to help sUAS operators know whether there are any restrictions or requirements where they want to fly. There are several areas that are no-drone zones especially in restricted air spaces or federally owned lands. Private land owners should always be contacted before any flights over their property.

Always check for Temporary Flight Restrictions and No Drone Zones that may be in effect where you plan to fly. 

Can I bring a sUAS to a sporting event or Reunions?

No. Flight over groups of people—areas of mass assembly—is not allowed under current FAA regulations. 

What about international locations?

The FAA regulations apply to sUAS within the United States national airspace system. Other countries may have their own regulations and laws governing sUAS operations, which you are responsible for following. A  third-party resource for information on drone laws in different countries is available from UAS Systems International

Export control laws may be applicable to sUAS technologies. 

Registration and Training

How do I register an sUAS?

Devices flown outside must be registered with the FAA according to their guidelines. The FAA sUAS registration site provides both online and paper processes. See the registration guide for step-by-step instructions.  

What is involved in becoming a remote pilot?

The requirements and process for becoming a remote aircraft pilot (required for Part 107 operations) are outlined at the FAA sUAS website for becoming a pilot.

Knowledge Testing Centers are located all around the country and charge approximately $150 to people seeking to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test.

Safeguards and Reporting

What are the privacy safeguards?

The use of sUAS may not be used to monitor or record areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in accordance with accepted social norms and legal requirements.

Any activities considered to be research involving human subjects must obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects.  

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has developed a set of best practices for privacy guidelines. Broadly these key best practices recommend:

  1. Informing others of your use of UAS as well as the purpose, timeframe, area of data collection, and data handling procedures such as data retention and de-identification process. The creation of a privacy policy and distributing it to participants is also recommended.
  2. Demonstrating care while using the UAS to avoid collecting any data over private properties without consent and not retaining any data that is not necessary.
  3. Limit the use and sharing of data obtained by the UAS. Steps should also be taken to secure obtained data.
Whom do I contact if I see a drone being used in an unsafe or irresponsible manner on university property?

Please contact the Department of Public Safety by dialing 911 in the event of an emergency, or if a sUAS  is being operated in a manner that could potentially lead to injury or damage to University structures.