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This policy applies to:

  • Bethel University employees and students operating unmanned aircraft systems in any location as part of their University employment or as part of University activities;
  • The operation by any person of an unmanned aircraft system or model aircraft on or above Bethel University property;
  • The purchase of unmanned aircraft systems with funding through Bethel University, including university accounts, grants, or BU Foundation accounts, and;
  • The hiring for or contracting for any unmanned aircraft services by a Bethel University department.

Bethel University must comply with FAA requirements, state law, and any other locally applicable laws or regulations regarding unmanned aircraft systems. Inherent risks in the operation of such equipment require additional insurance provisions and policy considerations.


Bethel University Property: Buildings, grounds, and land that is owned by Bethel University or controlled by Bethel University via leases or other formal contractual arrangements to house ongoing BU operations.

COA: Certificate of Authorization or Waiver:  According to the FAA, the COA is an authorization issued by the Air Traffic Organization to a public operator for a specific UAS activity. After a complete application is submitted, the FAA conducts a comprehensive operational and technical review. If necessary, provisions or limitations may be imposed as part of the approval to ensure the UA can operate safely with other airspace users. In most cases, the FAA will provide a formal response within 60 days from the time a completed application is submitted. An abbreviated COA is issued with a 333 exemption. The full COA is issued for governmental operations such as a police department. Research is not a "governmental operation."

333 Exemption: FAA exemption based on Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA), which grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): UAS are also known as or may be characterized as Drones. According to the FAA, a UAS is an unmanned aircraft, and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft. UAS may have a variety of names, including quadcopter, quadrotor, etc. FAA regulation applies to UAS regardless of size or weight. Model aircraft are not considered by the FAA as UAS and have different regulations.

Model Aircraft: Model aircraft are considered differently by the FAA than other UAS and have different regulations. Model aircraft are not for business purposes, only for hobby and recreation. (Use of UAS related to Bethel University does not qualify as model aircraft regulations.) Model aircraft must be kept within the visual sightline of the operator and should weigh under 55 pounds unless certified by an aeromodelling community-based organization. Model aircraft must be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas.

Policy Statement

The operation of unmanned aircraft systems, including drones and model aircraft, is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and relevant state law. Bethel University will establish procedures required to ensure compliance with those legal obligations and to reduce risks to safety, security, and privacy.


  1. All members of the Bethel University community are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and university policies. 
  2. Any University employee or student wishing to operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as part of their University employment or as part of a University program must first:
    1. Operate as a Part 107 Pilot in Command, or
    2. Obtain a 333 exemption or
    3. Obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) issued by the FAA.
    4. Contact Bethel Risk Management, Safety, and Security for approval.
  3. Bethel Risk Management, Safety, and Security requires a copy of the  COAs for Bethel University records. For UAS use in foreign countries, Bethel Risk Management, Safety, and Security may assist in determining requirements for those localities and verifying that requirements have been met.
  4. Any University employee, student, or department purchasing a UAS (or the parts to assemble a UAS), or UAS services with university funds or funds being disbursed through a university account, or grant funds, must contact Bethel Risk Management, Safety, and Security. To assess the University's ability to obtain a COA, other necessary FAA exemptions comply with revised FAA requirements or meet local compliance requirements.
  5. Any third party or hobbyist wishing to use a UAS or model aircraft over University property must first receive approval through Bethel Risk Management, Safety, and Security. Third parties planning to use UAS must also provide proof of FAA approval. In addition, the operation of a UAS by a third party or hobbyist over University property must be under a contract that holds the University harmless from any resulting claims or harm to individuals and damage to University property and provides insurance as required by Bethel Risk Management, Safety, and Security.
    1. All drone operators must carry aircraft or aviation liability insurance with limits of $1 Million per occurrence and $2 Million aggregate. The drone operator must provide Bethel University with a certificate of insurance of such coverage that names Bethel University as “Additional Insured” for the period in which the drone will be operated on campus. The submitted insurance must be primary without right of contribution from any other insurance available to Bethel University. Before the flight, the drone operator must submit to the office of  Risk Management, Safety, and Security, a certificate of insurance meeting these qualifications.
  6. In operating a UAS for purposes of recording or transmitting visual images, operators must take all reasonable measures to avoid violations of areas usually considered private. State law provides that a person who knowingly or intentionally places a camera or electronic surveillance equipment that records images or data of any kind while unattended on the private property of another person without the consent of the owner or tenant of the private property commits a Class A misdemeanor.
  7. The use of UAS must comply with any other applicable University policies. The use of UAS for video or electronic surveillance must comply with Bethel University Marketing and Communications team. All methods of UAS must comply with following Appropriate and Prohibited Uses (which track those policies in Marketing and Communication)
  8. The Bethel University Student Handbook bans student-owned drones from all campus property and airspace unless specific permission is obtained from Risk Management, Safety, and Security to use the drone for a specific project or event following a strict set of guidelines. Students found with a drone will be asked to take it home. If the student cannot remove these devices from the campus immediately, the device will be confiscated. Students who do not comply with this policy may incur a fine or disciplinary action.
  9. Drones may only be operated during full daylight (30 minutes after sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset).
  10. Drones permitted to fly on Bethel University property may not cross any boundary line onto the city-owned property, or the private property of an adjoining neighbor. Flight in these locations requires separate permissions.
  11. Drones may not be used to stalk or harass any person or animal.
  12. Any images or videos containing private information must be reported immediately to the Bethel University Title IX Coordinator before images or video destruction or additional viewing by others.
  13. The drone operator and/or any holders of recognizable in images or video collected the drone must take adequate measures to prevent the disclosure of personal information without consent. These measures may include, but are not limited to:
    1. Capturing images and videos of individuals only in large groups at a distance and resolution where individual recognition is not easily accomplished.
    2.  Obtaining signatures on a Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Photo and/or Video Release. Where minors are present, this form must be signed by a parent or guardian. Scanned copies of all signed consent forms must be delivered to Marketing and Communications. All drone-captured images or video that does not adequately protect personal information, for which no signed consent was obtained, must be destroyed.
    3. All images and video collected by drones must be made available to Marketing and Communications for review before distribution, except for images or video that has otherwise been reported to the Bethel University Title IX Coordinator due to private content.
    4. Bethel University Marketing and Communications reserves the right to review any, and all materials for external distribution made with drone-captured images or video before publication and/or distribution in any way, and at their sole discretion, to disallow distribution, or require that the disclaimer “THIS IS NOT A FUNCTION OF BETHEL UNIVERSITY” accompany the images or video as directed by them.

Bethel University reinforcement of the “Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule” (14 CFR Part 107)

  1.     Drones must undergo a preflight inspection before use.
  2.     Drones must remain in visual line of sight of the remote pilot in command, or dedicated visual observer at all times.
  3.     Drones must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command to be seen with the unaided eye.
  4.     Drones may not be operated carelessly or recklessly.
  5.     Drones may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation (i.e., drones may not fly directly over individuals or groups of people). If images or video is needed of such groups, the drone must capture these images from a safe distance on the side.

Appropriate and Prohibited Uses

  1. UAS shall not be used to monitor or record areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in accordance with accepted social norms. These areas include but are not limited to restrooms, locker rooms, individual residential rooms, changing or dressing rooms, and health treatment rooms.
  2. UAS shall not be used to monitor or record residential hallways, residential lounges, or the insides of campus daycare facilities.
  3. UAS shall not be used to monitor or record sensitive institutional or personal information which may be found, for example, on an individual's workspaces, on the computer, or other electronic displays.