Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones) Policy

Effective March 1, 2022

Due to potential risks to safety, security and privacy, Occidental College generally prohibits operations of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), commonly known as a drone, on or above Oxy property or in connection with an Oxy-sanctioned or affiliated event or activity, including commercial, recreational, hobbyist, or other uses.

Exceptions to this policy are allowed when a drone operating plan is submitted to and approved by the Oxy UAS Review Board, which will consider an exception to the policy on a case-by-case basis.  The members of the UAS Review Board are Jim Andersen, Sr. Risk and Insurance Manager, Rick Tanksley, Chief of Campus Safety and Marc Campos, College Photographer.  Examples of anticipated requests include the use of UAS for promotional and facilities maintenance purposes.

All of the UAS operation is subject to relevant FAA, state, and local laws and regulations, in addition to any rules and requirements imposed upon the event or activity by the College and/or by its recognized Oxy sponsor. Each UAS operator is responsible for compliance with all such requirements.

The College reserves the right to immediately shut down the operation, and confiscate any UAS elements, if a UAS creates any type of electronic interference, poses unacceptable risk to individuals or property, or interferes with any Oxy activity.

Violation of this policy may be grounds for disciplinary actions up to and including suspension, termination, or expulsion from the College. Trespass notices/orders and other legal action may also be pursued against third parties who operate UAS in violation of this policy or any applicable law. Fines or damages incurred based on the activities of individuals or units not in compliance with this policy are the responsibility of those individuals or units.

Questions or comments can be addressed to the UAS Review Board and emailed to risk@oxy.edu. If necessary, responses will be issued to the sender within five business days of receipt.

Procedure for requesting an exception to the policy and to use a UAS on campus

To submit a drone operating plan to the Oxy UAS Review Board for an exception to the college’s drone policy, the applicant must submit an application no less than 10 days prior to each proposed use (as per the steps outlined below). 

At all times, an approved Remote Pilot In Command of a properly authorized UAS must comply with FAA regulations, federal law, state law, and any local or other applicable laws or regulations regarding unmanned aircraft systems, in addition to compliance with the Oxy UAS Policy and any additional conditions required by the UAS Review Board. 

One-time policy exception application procedure 

Step 1: Submit a fully completed application along with the operating plan to the UAS Review Board at risk@oxy.edu at least 10 days prior to each planned operation of a UAS system. 

Step 2: The UAS Review Board will issue an acknowledgement that the application is under review. The acknowledgment will note any omissions or deficiencies in the application, and may include suggested modifications to the application. The applicant will have the opportunity to address UAS Review Board comments prior to a final determination.

Step 3: The UAS Review Board will issue a final determination. If permission is not granted, the applicant cannot operate a UAS on college property or at any college-sanctioned event or activity. If granted, the Board will send permission to the applicant’s email address. The applicant must provide a copy of this permission to the UAS pilot and operating team, who in turn must be able to produce the permission if asked by college personnel during the operation of the UAS. 

Criteria used to evaluate proposed UAS operating plans: 

  1. Evidence that the applicant is either an active vendor, student, faculty member, or employee of the College. 
  2. The envisioned operation must be judged by the UAS Review Board to not pose an unacceptable threat to health, safety, privacy, or the environment, either in an absolute sense or compared to other methods of obtaining the desired information. 
  3. The envisioned operation must be judged by the UAS Review Board to be in the best interest of the public and the college. 

The UAS Operating Plan must include the information identified in the UAS Operating Plan Template as that document is the basis for review by the UAS Review Board. 

Download the UAS Operating Plan Application Template

Safety Requirements Applicable to all UAS Flights: 

The following safety-related requirements must be adhered to on all UAS flights: 

1) Condition for Safe Operation: No Remote Pilot in Command may operate a small UAS system unless it is in condition for safe operation. Prior to each flight, the Remote Pilot in Command must check the small UAS to determine whether it is in condition for safe operation. 

2) Preflight familiarization, inspection, and actions for aircraft operation: Prior to flight, the remote pilot in command must: 

  1. Assess the operating environment, considering risks to persons and property in the immediate vicinity both on the surface and in the air. This assessment must include:
    1. Local weather conditions; 
    2. Local airspace and any flight restrictions; 
    3. The location of persons and property on the surface; and 
    4. Other ground hazards. 
  2. Ensure that all persons directly participating in the small UAS operation are informed about the operating conditions, emergency procedures, contingency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and potential hazards; 
  3. Ensure that all control links between ground contract station and the small UAS are working properly; 
  4. If the small UAS is powered, ensure that there is enough available power for the small UAS to operate for the intended operational time; and 
  5. Ensure that any object attached or carried by the UAS is secure and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the UAS. 

3) Medical Condition: No person may operate a small UAS, whether acting as the Remote Pilot in Command or under the direct supervision of the Remote Pilot in Command, if the person knows or has reason to know that he or she has a physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of the small UAS. 

4) In-flight emergency: In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the Remote Pilot in Command may deviate from the Operating Plan to the extent necessary to meet that emergency. Emergency action should be taken in a way that minimizes injury to persons and/or damage to property. A written report must be prepared and retained in each instance where an in-flight emergency causes a deviation. The report must summarize the nature of the emergency and explain the nature and extent of the deviation. 

5) Hazardous Operation: A Remote Pilot in Command is prohibited from: 

  1. Operating a small UAS in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another; or 
  2. Allowing an object to be dropped from a Small Unmanned Aircraft in a manner that creates an undue hazard to persons or property. 

6) Operation From a Moving Vehicle or Aircraft: The Remote Pilot in Command is prohibited from operating a small UAS from a vehicle. 

7) Alcohol or Drugs: The Remote Pilot in Command is prohibited from operating a small UAS while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcohol and/or drugs. 

8) Daylight Operation: All operation of small UAS’ must occur during daylight hours. 

9) Visual Line of Sight: With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the Remote Pilot in Command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the small UAS must be able to see the small UAS throughout its entire flight. 

10) Visual Observer: If a visual observer is used during the aircraft operation, all of the following requirements must be met: 

  1. The Remote Pilot in Command, the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS, and the visual observer must maintain effective communication with each other at all times. 
  2. The remote pilot in command must ensure that the visual observer is able to maintain visual line of sight at all times 
  3. The Remote Pilot in Command, the person manipulating the flight controls, and the visual observer must scan the airspace where the small UAS is operating for any potential collision hazard and must maintain awareness of the position of the small UAS through direct visual observation. 

11) Operation of Multiple small UASs: A person may not operate or act as a remote pilot in command or visual observer of more than one unmanned aircraft at a time. 

12) Right of Way: All small UAS must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means that the small UAS must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear. No person may operate a small UAS so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard. 

13) Operation in Certain Airspace: No person may operate a small UAS in a manner that interferes with the operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base. No person may operate a small UAS in prohibited or restricted airspace unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate. 

Definitions 

Oxy Property: Buildings, facilities, grounds, and land that are owned or controlled by Occidental College. 

Remote Pilot in Command: The Remote Pilot in Command is the person operating the small UAS personally, or directly supervising the operation of a small UAS with the ability to immediately take direct control of the flight of the UAS. 

UAS - Unmanned Aerial System: UASs are also known as or may be characterized as unmanned aircraft systems, model aircraft, or drones. According to the FAA, a UAS is the 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. Unmanned aerial systems may have a variety of names including drones, quadcopter, quadrotor, etc.