Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQs were derived from the FAA website and the Princeton University Use of sUAS on University Property policy. 

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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 (Business, Educational or Recreational)  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 under the FAA’s Recreational Standards?

Students may operate sUAS for recreational and educational purposes as permitted by the FAA’s Recreational Standards as an Exception for Limited Operation of Unmanned Aircraft. Students must pass the TRUST aeronautical knowledge and safety test administered by organizations authorized by the FAA.The Recreational standards limit users to daytime flights and preclude all business uses (such as taking promotional videos or photos). 

What type of operations are allowed with Part 107?

The primary law for operating drones weighing under 55 lbs. is Part 107 (14 CFR part 107). Part 107 gives operators flexibility and options for flying for a variety of purposes, including recreation, research, education, and business or commercial activities. Examples of  sUAS operations covered by Part 107 include federally-funded research projects, professional filming, photography, and building inspections. Operators under Part 107 must have a remote pilot certificate or be operated under the direct supervision of a person with that credential.

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 can I fly?

NOTICE: Due to multiple ongoing construction projects, flights are not allowed on the main campus or West Windsor Fields until further notice. Flights will be permitted on a limited basis at the Forrestal Helistop. (March, 2022)

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 large groups of people—areas of mass assembly—is not permitted on campus. 

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(link is external). 

Export control(link is external) laws may be applicable to sUAS technologies. 


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?

All drone operators must pass the relevant training credentials for their type of operation. 

In order to fly your drone under the FAA's Small UAS Rule (Part 107), you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. This certificate demonstrates that you understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones.

All recreational flyers must pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of test passage (the TRUST completion certificate) to the FAA or law enforcement upon request. 


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(link is external) 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.