Campus News

UK Outlines New Drone Policy to Ensure Safety, Compliance

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 3, 2016) — The use of drones for recreation or by hobbyists is prohibited on the University of Kentucky campus. Drone use requests for research or instructional purposes must be registered and approved by UK’s event management office.


Those are some of the primary provisions of a new UK policy regarding drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) announced Wednesday by the university.


“Our first and most important priority is the safety of our UK community and those who visit us,” said Eric N. Monday, the university’s executive vice president for finance and administration. “At the same time, we want to ensure that any policy we adopt is in full compliance with federal aviation requirements and the law. This new policy makes clear our priorities and how we will ensure the safety of our campus community.”


One of the chief concerns about drone use has been the proximity of any campus flight to a heliport located at UK HealthCare’s A.B. Chandler Hospital as well as Commonwealth Stadium. Federal Aviation Administration regulations generally restrict flights of unmanned aircraft systems near airports.


The new UK policy, adopted after recommendations by a committee that met multiple times over the last several months, can be read here. Specifically, the UK policy includes provisions that prohibit:


· Hobbyist or recreational use of drones or UAS on all UK owned, operated or controlled property. That includes the main campus in Lexington as well as other sites such as Coldstream Research Park and farms the university owns or operates across the state.


· Commercial use of drones, unless prior approval is granted by UK and the appropriate registration for use has taken place with the Federal Aviation Administration. Licensed operators — for commercial use or institutional purposes — must apply for permission through the UK Event Management Office at least seven days prior to the requested event.


· Operating drones or UAS directly above open-air events or above thoroughfares such as roadways, sidewalks, bike paths and pedestrian paths.


· Use above Commonwealth Stadium during any event.


The Event Management Office will work with the requestor on the appropriate certificate of waiver or authorization for flight operations. Anyone seeking to fly for a particular use on campus must have proof of general liability insurance that covers the operation of UAS.


“There are, of course, legitimate and important reasons for the use of drones or unmanned aircraft systems — including research and instruction that benefits significantly from the use of these systems,” Monday said. “To that end, this policy also creates the process in which such uses can occur, while also ensuring the safety of our campus community and the broader community we serve.”



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