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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Policy 20221202


Rhode Island School of Design seeks to permit Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to be utilized productively in a manner that fully meets institutional, legal, public safety, and ethical responsibilities, while ensuring compliance with all federal regulations.


This policy applies to any RISD employee or student operating a UAV in any location as part of a RISD activity in addition to any person operating a UAV above RISD property not as part of a school activity.

Policy Statement

This policy was developed to provide direction to anyone possessing or operating a UAV owned by the college, or operated on/above RISD- owned property. Direction includes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for registration of specific UAV types, and federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern use of UAVs, along with specific sanctions for violating this policy.


UAV – Any device which is an aircraft that is not equipped to carry human operators. UAVs can be remote-controlled aircraft (e.g., flown by a pilot at a ground control station) or can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans or more complex dynamic automation systems (often referred to as a drone)

UAS -- Unmanned Air/Aircraft System


Any RISD employee or student wishing to operate a UAV as part of their college employment or as part of a college program must first comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including but not limited to FAA regulations, regarding the use of UAVs.

The operator of the UAV is responsible for:

  • Obtaining all required permits, licenses and waivers;
  • ensuring that their UAV has been inspected and maintained on a regular basis, and
  • checking for temporary flight restrictions on the day of flight.

Specific authorization to operate a UAV on or above any RISD property, or as part of a RISD or RISDCE course, must be granted by the appropriate department head, as well the Risk Manager. Public Safety must also be notified prior to flight.

Any student on campus who owns a UAV may have it flown strictly for hobby or recreational purposes. Students must adhere to the FAA guidelines regarding the recreational use of UAVs and may not fly on or above campus. If a student wishes to use a UAV on campus as part of a college course, the student must fill out an Installation Site Permit.

For the protection and privacy of our faculty, staff, and students, RISD does not, as a matter of policy, permit persons other than authorized faculty, staff, and students to fly drones on or above property owned or leased by RISD.


In general, the conditions that must be observed in all operations of a UAV permitted under this policy are set forth in Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The conditions listed here are some of the key conditions, but are not the only conditions, that are required by law. All Part 107 operators are required to be aware of all applicable limitations and conditions placed on flight by the FAA and must follow all the requirements including, but not limited to:

  • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
  • Fly in Class G airspace
  • Keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight
  • Fly at or below 400 feet (unless the UAV is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure's immediate uppermost limit)
  • Fly during daylight or civil twilight
  • Fly at or under 100 mph
  • Yield right of way to manned aircraft, and
  • Not flying directly over people. (The term "over" refers to the flight of the small unmanned aircraft directly over any part of a person.)

For academic areas that own and operate UAVs:

All UAVs owned by RISD must be registered per the Part 107 rules set forth by the FAA. A list of UAV and registration numbers must be provided to the Office of Risk Management prior to flights.

Additional Resources

Revision history

This policy was created on: 9/4/2018

Next scheduled review: September 4, 2023 or as required by law


Issuing Office

Risk and Emergency Management

Responsible Officer

Vice President, Campus Services

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director, Public Safety

Director, Risk and Emergency Management

Academic Affairs