Drones at the University

Our proximity to the airport and concerns over safety, security and privacy do not allow for the personal use of drones* on campus.

The only allowable use of drones at SCU is for educational purposes.

Under FAA rules, the main SCU campus is in controlled airspace due to the close proximity of the airport. Flights may only occur with FAA permission.  

In 2016 and 2017, the FAA clarified the rules regarding drones and their usage by entities like Santa Clara University.  The rules are clear: no use of drones for faculty research, no selling photos or videos taken from a drone, no using a drone to provide contract services such as wedding photography, photography of the campus, photography of campus roofing and for other inspections.

The only allowable use of drones at SCU is for educational purposes.

Students can learn how to design, construct and operate drones as a component of their coursework such as in connection with science, technology, engineering, film or photography courses.

As of March 2018, the School of Engineering Robotic Systems Laboratory is the only group that is allowed to fly on campus for any educational purpose.  

For SCU departments, schools and the college that desire to fly for educational purposes, the School of Engineering Robotic Systems Laboratory may be able to fly on your behalf.

There is a flight request process which asks for specifics about flight purpose, UAS system, payload and pilot.

In order to get approval to fly, requesters must follow a Three Step Process

1) File a UAS Flight Project Permit Request to uas@scu.edu

  • The Flight Project Permit request helps the UAS Group determine if: 
    • the Flight Project meets university requirements for the purpose, platform, pilot and procedures to be used when flying.
    • It DOES NOT provide authority to fly.
    • Approved Flight Projects must file UAS Flight Plan Requests
    • Approval of UAS Flight Plan Requests may take up to 5 days to process.

2) With the above approved, file a UAS Flight Plan Request to uas@scu.edu

  • The Flight Plan Request helps the UAS Group determine:
    • Where the flight will take place on campus. Due proximity to Mineta San Jose Airport, the FAA only allows for flight over certain areas of campus. See Campus FAA Airspace approval map.
    • Confirm the Pilot in Command remains licensed
    • Confirms the type of drone to be used
    • Confirms that the pilot and crew are prepared to ensure safe operation and to prevent non-participants from entering the flight operations area

 3) With the above approved, create a flight plan via the AirMap app (android, iOS, web-based)

  • This use of AirMap is the FAA authorization to fly over campus.
  • Submit the approval as soon as possible in the form of a screenshot to uas@scu.edu with all associated flight plan details.
  • Note that there specific parts of campus that allows for automatic FAA approval within the app itself (flights below 200 feet). See Campus FAA Airspace approval Map.

*For SCU purposes, the term “drones” includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), remote control hobby craft airplanes and copters.

 

Here you will find the most current information for UAS at Santa Clara University
  • Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107)
  • Know Before You Fly: An education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
Santa Clara University uses AirMap for automated airspace authorization on all approved* flights below 200 feet in specific areas on campus. AirMap utilizes LAANC, the Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.

*Flights are approved ONLY through the University's UAS Group.