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 (see below).
Requests to fly on the Princeton University campus must be submitted for all outdoor locations and indoor public spaces and common areas. A sUAS Flight Request Form is required along with documentation of all required training, certifications and registrations.
Learn more about the steps for requesting and getting approval to fly on our Fly Your sUAS page.
Preferred Outdoor Locations
Lake Campus construction has begun and the West Windsor Fields are no longer available for sUAS flights. Flights for research, coursework and recreation have moved to the Forrestal Helistop and adjacent fields on the Forrestal Campus of Princeton University in Plainsboro.
The helipad is located at 701 Forrestal Road. Parking is available, and the Tiger Transit Route 3 Merwick to Forrestal/PPPL via Equad bus line has a stop nearby. Learn More »
Flights subject to approval and availability. No flights are permitted at any other locations at Forrestal. Rocket launches are prohibited.
Indoor flights will require approval when they are planned for public spaces, common areas, and rooms that may be reserved (e.g., atrium, hallways, classrooms, athletic facilities). In general, these requests will be reviewed by the individuals responsible for the space in addition to the sUAS management team prior to approval being granted. Locations that do not require prior sUAS management team approval are those indoor spaces that are assigned to specific faculty, staff, or students (e.g., research laboratory, office). Indoor flights by third-parties (invitees) require approval in all locations.
Princeton University No Drone Zones
To safeguard safety and security, the campus has designated a few locations as permanent "No Drone Zones." These include the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University daycare facilities, and power substations. UAS flights over these areas are prohibited.
Drone flights are prohibited on campus while public safety warnings or alerts are in effect. In addition, the campus may issue temporary flight restrictions during special events such as reunions, commencement, sporting events, or emergency response.
2021 New FAA Rules Implementation
Implementation of new FAA rules for educational users are now in effect. Educational users are now able to operate UAS under the recreational standards (formerly known as Section 336). This requires educational users to pass a knowledge test and receive approval from their institution of higher education to fly anywhere in the U.S. national airspace system.
NOTE: No flights will be approved at Princeton University for research or coursework unless the operator has, at minimum, passed the knowledge test through the TRUST program or obtained Part 107 certification. All flights for business purposes require a Part 107
The preferred authorization for all sUAS flying—including educational and recreational flights—is the Part 107 License. Part 107 allows for more flexibility in where drones can be flown, and when. While a recreational/educational authorization is sufficient for coursework (i.e. undergrads doing a senior project), Part 107 is necessary for many research uses. It also gives faculty and graduate students the ability to allow students to fly drones under their supervision.
Learn More on the Policies and Procedures page.
Locations beyond campus may be suitable for sUAS operations under a variety of conditions. Local ordinances may apply to the use of drones in locations off campus; it is the responsibility of users to do research and seek approvals where necessary. The information below is meant as a general guide and is no substitute for knowledge of specific local rules pertaining to sUAS use.
It is important to know and understand FAA safety rules for model aircraft when operating a sUAS anywhere in the United States.
The LAANC System
The Low Altitude Authorization and Capability (LAANC) system allows commercial, educational and recreational flyers access to controlled airspace. Flyers must gain authorization via approved third-party servers (see additional info under apps below).
There are smartphone apps to help UAS operators know where to fly and get approval for flights.
The FAA has developed a smartphone app called B4UFLY to help operators know whether there are any restrictions or requirements where they want to fly.
The FAA-approved Aloft app allows operators to manage a drone program safely, compliantly and reliably. It allows users to check airspace, weather, LAANC authorization, log flight data, track certifications and more.
AirMap provides air nautical data to UAS users, offering feedback of real-time air data, flight path planning and real-time traffic alerts for nearby manned aircraft, LAANC authorization, and more.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has published an overview of voluntary privacy best practices for UAS operators. The FAA also provides all drone users with recommended privacy guidelines as part of the UAS registration process and through the B4UFly mobile app.
No Drone Zones and Airspace Restrictions
Federal, state and local entities are empowered by the FAA to maintain posted No Drone Zones in areas where flying sUAS is prohibited. Areas may also be subject to temporary or permanent airspace restrictions due to weather or hazardous conditions, military operations or special events.
Washington D.C.: sUAS flights are prohibited within a 15-mile radius of Reagan National Airport and subject to special restrictions in an "outer ring" zone extending to a 30-mile radius. FAA Information on DC No Drone Zone »
Additional no-fly rules may apply to national parks and other public lands. Permission from landowners should always be sought before flying on private land.
UAS Data Delivery System
The FAA offers a UAS Data Delivery Service, which features a map of UAS data nationwide showing controlled airspace around airports and military installations, among other useful information.
Model Aircraft Clubs
Model aircraft clubs can coordinate flight operations with other clubs. Information on clubs and field locations in New Jersey can be found here.
Centers of Excellence and sUAS Test Sites
The FAA has established Centers of Excellence among major research institutions for the testing and development of new UAS technology. The FAA also maintains UAS test sites around the country for UAS research and operational concept validation.
Outside the United States
Users of sUAS must follow all applicable regulations and laws of the host country when operating devices outside of the United States. In some countries, the flying of drones is prohibited under any circumstances.
An overview of current country regulations is provided by multiple organizations:
The Library of Congress also publishes drone regulation information for a number of countries. These laws are always evolving; contact the intended host country directly to confirm the latest statutes applicable to drones and other sUAS.
A U.S. government export license may be required to ship or transport a sUAS or its payload (e.g. cameras, sensors, etc.) to a foreign country or to provide foreign persons with technology related to the item. Contact John Jenkins ([email protected]) for assistance.