Drone Policy

Purpose Statement

HBS community members have requested information on using UAS or drones on campus. The FAA maintains strict regulations on commercial UAS flights; the purpose of this policy is to help clarify acceptable use and safety of UAS on or above the HBS campus.

What are Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)?

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, are aircraft without a human pilot aboard. They can be controlled autonomously via a programmed flight path or by a pilot on the ground. The FAA defines UAS as following under civil (commercial), public (military and government), or model (recreational) guidelines. UAS that are operated for compensation are deemed commercial UAS and must receive a Special Airworthiness Certificate by the FAA. Due to FAA regulations, HBS cannot permit UAS to be flown on HBS property for commercial purposes. For more information on UAS use visit knowbeforeyoufly.org.

Policy on UAS Flights

The FAA is currently developing regulations to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace. Therefore, HBS cannot approve UAS flights over campus for commercial purposes. Flights for research, marketing, promotion, or advertising purposes for HBS, Harvard University, or other organizations are not permitted over HBS property.

HBS requires recreational UAS operators to request approval from HBS Operations prior to flight. A request can be submitted by email at security@hbs.edu. Requests must include the pilot’s name & contact information along with the, date, time, duration, and location of the proposed flight. Please also include the make and model of the aircraft along with a copy of the FAA UAS registration. The request must be submitted and approved no less than 48 hours prior to the proposed flight. Only aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing will be considered for approval. Still imagery and video may not be taken of individuals inside any building or courtyards. HBS reserves the right to restrict UAS and collect imagery or video when operators of the aircraft are physically on the property of HBS. Campus Video Guidelines apply for all UAS flights. An approved UAS flight is restricted to HBS property only.

Existing imagery or video obtained by a UAS by HBS students, faculty, or staff of HBS property is not permitted to be published publically (e.g. posting a video on YouTube) without the prior express consent of HBS Marketing & Communications.

The following additional policies are to be observed when UAS on HBS property as recommended by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) National Model Aircraft

Safety Code:

  • The pilot must follow all FAA regulations for hobby or recreational flying.

  • Aircraft during free flight must maintain a 25 feet distance from people, vehicles, and buildings at all times. The aircraft must maintain a distance of 50 feet from all above-ground utility lines. The aircraft must not be flown at an altitude greater than 400 feet. Aircraft must avoid loitering directly over people and vehicles when possible.

  • The UAS may not fly near or interfere with manned aircraft.

  • The operator of the aircraft must remain in line of sight view of the aircraft at all times.

  • A label must exist on the aircraft to identify its owner(s).

  • The aircraft cannot be flown for commercial purposes (compensation received by an operator).

  • The aircraft cannot be operated while under the influence of alcohol or while using any drug that could adversely affect the pilot’s ability to safely control the aircraft.

  • Aircraft cannot be operated carrying pyrotechnic devices that explode or burn, or any device which propels a projectile or drops any object that creates a hazard to persons or property.

  • The aircraft must not exceed a weight (including fuel) greater than 55 lbs.

  • Aircraft cannot have metal blade-propellers, gaseous boosts, or be turbine powered.

  • Under no circumstances may a pilot or other person touch an aircraft in flight while it is still under power, except to divert it from striking an individual.

  • The pilot must report any crashes, lost aircraft, or contact with buildings, individuals, or other ground objects to the HBS Security Operations Center at 617-495-5577.

Future of UAS at HBS

The future of UAS use for commercial purposes remains highly spirited amongst the aviation community. The FAA, the US agency responsible for regulating the nation’s airspace, continues to refine their plans for safely integrating civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace. HBS Operations will continue to monitor UAS regulations and interpretations published by the FAA and will update this policy accordingly.

For obtaining aerial photography of HBS, you may consider contracting a manned rotorcraft (helicopter). Please contact HBS Marketing & Communications and HBS Security prior to scheduling a flight over campus.

HBS encourages students, faculty, and staff to submit their input about this policy for consideration.