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Flying a drone at Virginia Tech? Know the policy.

students in the drone park
A Mining and Minerals Engineering course takes advantage of the Drone Park. Photo by Richard Bishop for Virginia Tech.

Drone flights on campus or other university property, as well as flights of drones owned by the university, are governed by Virginia Tech’s Policy 5820 on the Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The policy expands opportunities for the Virginia Tech community and preserves a safe, secure university environment by facilitating drone use while minimizing risk. It also ensures compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations and applicable federal and state laws.

All university drone operators, including students, faculty, and staff, are responsible for being familiar with the policy and abiding by its guidelines. Violations may be addressed with legal or university disciplinary actions.

Some key points:

  • The policy includes specific protocols for various circumstances — for example, flights on the Blacksburg campus fall under a different protocol than flights at Kentland Farm. These protocols, and the requirements for each one, can be found on the drone policy website.
  •  You must apply in advance to fly a drone on the Blacksburg campus, unless your flight occurs inside the drone park.
  • Most protocols under the policy require that the operator obtain a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA and complete a Virginia Tech UAS training course. The Virginia Tech course is available as a self-paced Canvas module at this link.
  • The Virginia Tech Drone Park is a great option for operators, aircraft, or flights that don’t meet the requirements of the policy.

More details can be found on the drone policy website.

Questions? Contact the UAS Safety Office: uassafety@vt.edu.

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