Chico State Enterprises

Regulations on the Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)


To provide guidance concerning the appropriate uses and operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS; commonly referred to as “drones”) at CSU, Chico. 

Any individual or group wishing to operate a UAS on the property of CSU Chico must obtain prior written approval from the University UAS Review Board (URB).  All current employees, students, staff, and volunteers intending to operate University-owned UAS off-campus must also be cleared to do so by the URB.  The URB was established to ensure that university-associated UAS operations:

  • Comply with applicable laws, government regulations, and University policies
  • Do not pose a threat to health, safety, privacy, or the environment
  • Include appropriate steps to manage and mitigate associated risks
  • Serve the mission of the University and interests of the public at large


UAS offer significant opportunities for faculty, students and staff, enabling cutting-edge education and training, research, and public affairs, as well as enhancement of university operations, maintenance, and safety.

While UAS represent important contributors to the university’s mission and function, their operation requires adherence to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, as this agency controls all navigable airspace within the United States. All aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, are subject to FAA rules and regulations, and violations carry severe federal penalties.   As the regulations governing UAS operations continue to develop, it is incumbent upon the requestor/operator to become familiar with the latest FAA regulations. Adherence to the most current FAA regulations shall be a primary factor in determining authorization by the URB for small UAS operations.

At CSU Chico, the URB is responsible for approving and regulating all University-associated UAS operations, as described below.



The Provost [Vice President for Academic Affairs] is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of these requirements.


These requirements apply to powered aircraft operated without a human pilot onboard (i.e., UAS) by CSU Chico faculty, staff, students, or university volunteers, in the course of scholarly, educational, and other university-associated activities, in addition to any use on university-owned property by any individual.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

All UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs.  UAS used under the provisions of this policy are defined by 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(41) and Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Subchapter 1.1.

University UAS Review Committee (URB)*

The URB is a presidentially-appointed committee composed of the Associate Vice President of Research (or designee; serves as chair, ex officio), University Risk Manager (or designee), Director of Environmental Health and Safety (or designee), University Chief of Police (or designee), one Academic Dean or Associate Dean, and 1-2 faculty members who are familiar with the use of UAS and/or hold a pilot’s license.

The URB is responsible for the review, approval and oversight of UAS operations at, or in association with, CSU Chico. An approval from the URB provides a minimum level of assurance that the operators are aware of the permitting requirements (i.e., FAA’s) and are capable of operating the UAS safely and responsibly.

Approval Process

Prospective UAS operators must submit to the URB a Flight Operations Proposal, which is reviewed, revised as necessary according to FAA and university guidelines, and then may be approved as the Flight Operations Plan allowing deployment.

The URB strongly encourages any prospective user to develop and submit a Flight Operations Proposal as the first step in planning for any University-related use of UAS, e.g., prior to submission of external or internal funding proposals for the activity.

Flight Operations Proposals should minimally address the following elements:

(a)  Proof that UAS is registered with the FAA

(b)  Purpose, nature (research, instruction, other) and goals of the work to be undertaken, and need for UAS to accomplish goals

(c)  Type of UAS/equipment to be utilized and the manner in which it/they will be operated

(d)  Type of operation: manual or robotic

(e)  The identity of pilot(s) or other remote operator(s) and any licenses or certifications

(f)  Dates/schedule of activities to be undertaken

(g)  Locale(s) and flight plan for operations, including a map showing geofence boundary and proposed flight pattern

(h)  All forms of data (including imagery) to be collected

(i)  Provisions for security of the equipment, both during and outside of operation, and of any sensitive data collected

(j)  Sources and nature of financial support, if appropriate (e.g., via grant, contract, department, etc.)

(k)  Proof of access to public or private property associated with flight operations

(l)  Communications plan for notifying University Police, local police agencies, and Chico Airport, as appropriate, in the overflight radius of planned operations each time a UAS is flown

(m)  Written affirmation that the COA will be used only for non-commercial, research purposes

(n)  Evidence of financial Support of UAS (Campus unit, grant-funded-other)

Operational Requirements

It is the responsibility of the operator to comply with all current CSU, local, state and federal regulations at all times when operating a UAS. UAS operators must possess copies of their URB approval, Flight Operation Plan, and any documentation which the law may require during the deployment of the UAS. The URB or University Police may review this material at any time. In addition to any and all FAA operational guidelines, the following restrictions apply:

a)      Operator must conduct a preflight inspection to ensure UAS is safe to operate

b)      The maximum operational altitude is 400 feet above ground level.  Operation at altitudes above 400 feet from ground level is prohibited, even if operating from the top of a structure.

c)      UAS may not be operated in inclement weather that may affect the UAS’s ability to function or handle properly

d)     UAS may not be operated over or near any public safety personnel during emergencies or when responding to calls

e)      UAS may not be operated for the unauthorized recording/videoing of individuals, performances, or University events, or for any unlawful purpose

Operating UAS without an approved Flight Operations Plan violates university regulations, which can result in administrative actions upon the perpetrator(s).  UAS operated in violation of any federal, state, or local laws or contract provisions will be subject to grounding.  

Persons witnessing suspected misuse of UAS in association with CSU, Chico should contact University Police at 530-898-5555.  Any incidents that result in property damage or injury must also be reported as soon as reasonably possible to University Police.

Document Retention

All Flight Operation Proposals, approved Flight Operations Plan, and related documents will be maintained by the URB for three years.


Federal Aviation Administration Unmanned Aircraft Systems ( 

Drone flying above the trees
Flight Operation Proposal Application

Flight Operation Proposal Application (PDF)

Submit Flight Operations Proposals to:

University Risk Management