Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Drone – Model Aircraft Policy

Policy and Purpose

This policy establishes an approval process and procedures to ensure safe and responsible operation of any unmanned aircraft system (“UAS”) or Model Aircraft on all owned, operated, or controlled property of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (“SBTS”) and Boyce College (“Boyce”), and off campus in the U.S. national airspace system. This policy applies to any Operator (as defined in Section II) and is intended to enhance safety, ensure compliance with Kentucky and federal law, and preserve security and privacy of the members of the SBTS and Boyce community. SBTS and Boyce will comply with the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations and applicable law.


  1. “333 Exemption” means an exemption granted by the FAA under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the U.S. national air space system.
  2. “Authorization” means approval to use a UAS pursuant to Section III of this policy.
  3. “Campus” means all property owned, operated, or controlled by SBTS and/or Boyce.
  4. “COA,” or “Certificate of Authorization of Waiver,” is an authorization issued by the Air Traffic Organization to a Public Operator for a specified unmanned aircraft activity. After a complete application is submitted, FAA conducts a comprehensive operational and technical review. If necessary, the FAA will impose limitations as conditions of approval for purposes of ensuring the UAS can operate safely with other airspace users. Typically, the FAA will provide a formal response within sixty (60) days of an Operator’s submission of a COA application.
  5. “FAA” means the Federal Aviation Administration.
  6. “Fly Date” means the date and timeframe during which an Operator intends to operate an UAS on Campus or U.S. national airspace.
  7. “Model Aircraft” means an unmanned aircraft, other than a toy aircraft, having an operating mass not exceeding fifty-five (55) pounds, or any other weight prescribed by competent authority (such as the FAA), that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere and that is used exclusively for display or recreational activities.
  8. “Operator” means (a) any faculty, staff, student, licensee, invitee, visitor, contractor, agency, business, club organization or other individual using or piloting an UAS or Model Aircraft on Campus, or (b) any faculty, staff, student, licensee, or other affiliate (in the broadest sense of the term) of SBTS or Boyce piloting an UAS or Model Aircraft in the U.S. national airspace.
  9. “UAS,” commonly referred to as a “drone,” is defined by the FAA as “the unmanned aircraft (UA) and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft. The UA is the flying portion of the system, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through the use of an on-board computer, communication links and any additional equipment that is necessary for the UA to operate safely.” For the avoidance of doubt, this definition shall not include any Model Aircraft.


  1. Authorization to utilize a UAS or Model Aircraft will require the approval of all three of the SBTS Event Productions, Campus Police, and Communications departments (the “Approving Departments”). An Operator’s request for UAS use will consist of an email to all three Approving Departments and shall include evidence showing compliance with the requirements of Section III(b) of this policy, as well as the date, time, purpose, and manner in which the UAS will be flown. An Operator’s request for Model Aircraft use shall include evidence showing compliance with the requirements of Section IV(e) of this policy, as well as the date, time, purpose, and manner in which the Model Aircraft will be flown. All requests for approval must be received by the Approving Departments at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the requested Fly Date. The department head of each Approving Departments will be copied in the email request. Once an application for UAS operation has been received by the Approving Departments, the Approving Departments shall have three (3) business days to notify the requesting Operator with a final decision regarding Authorization. Express written approval of the Approving Departments, via email, is required before Authorization has formally issued. All applications will be processed on a case-by-case basis. Failure of the Approving Departments, in part or in whole, to respond shall not be deemed approval or Authorization under this policy.
  2. No Authorization for use of an UAS shall issue unless an Operator meets the following, non exhaustive list of qualifications:
    1. The Operator must be at least seventeen (17) years old.
    2. The UAS shall weigh no more than fifty-five (55) pounds when flight ready.
    3. The UAS is appropriately registered with the FAA. This means the Operator must either operate as a Part 107 Pilot in Command, or obtain a 333 Exemption, or obtain a COA.
    4. The Operator has notified airports or other aircraft operations within five (5) miles of the Operator’s proposed flight area of the Operator’s intended use of the UAS on the Fly Date.
    5. The UAS has been inspected pre-flight to assure it is in good condition as of the Fly Date.
  3. All Operators are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and SBTS and Boyce policies and procedures.

Prohibited/Permitted Uses

  1. The recreational or hobbyist use of any UAS is strictly prohibited on Campus without Authorization from the Approving Departments.
  2. UAS or Model Aircraft shall not be used to monitor or record areas where an individual or individuals may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in accordance with accepted social norms. These areas include, without limitation, the interior or exterior of restrooms, locker rooms, individual residential rooms (residence halls and apartments), changing or dressing rooms, health treatment rooms, residential hallways, residential lounges, or Campus daycare facilities.
  3. UAS or Model Aircraft shall not be used in a manner creating a hazard to persons affiliated with or property owned or controlled by SBTS and/or Boyce. UAS or Model Aircraft shall not be operated in a manner that disrupts instruction or unduly affects persons’ ingress and egress throughout Campus. UAS or Model Aircraft shall not be operated directly above open air events or above thoroughfares, including, without limitation, roadways, sidewalks, bike paths, and pedestrian paths.
  4. UAS flights that are considered to support or align with the institutional mission of SBTS and Boyce will be considered for approval. UAS flights shall be permitted for purposes of research, education, demonstrations, communications, or any other matter reasonably related to the institutional mission of SBTS and Boyce.
  5. Use of a Model Aircraft is permissible on Campus, provided that such Model Aircraft must at all times be kept within visual sightline of the Operator, and must weigh no more than fiftyfive (55) pounds. Any Model Aircraft must be flown at a reasonably safe distance from populated areas of Campus; otherwise the Operator is subject to the same penalties applicable to an Operator’s impermissible use of as UAS.
  6. Operators shall operate any UAS or Model Aircraft in a safe, careful, and reasonable manner, observing all duties owed to third persons and property or precautions required by regulatory, statutory, or common law.


  1. Violations of this policy shall be subject to discipline under applicable federal or state statutes and/or applicable SBTS and Boyce policies and procedures. Penalties may include the prohibited use of campus facilities and property, disciplinary action for SBTS and Boyce students, faculty, staff, and, where appropriate, criminal charges. All complaints concerning the operation of UAS or Model Aircraft over Campus should be referred to Campus Police.
  2. Third parties or governmental entities may enforce prohibitions regarding trespassing or other legal actions arising from impermissible UAS or Model Aircraft use under the law and this policy.
  3. In the event of a violation of this policy or applicable law, UAS registration (if applicable), Operator information, and an incident report will be submitted to the FAA for review. Any fines or penalties incurred by the Operator(s) as a result of such violation will be the sole responsibility of the individual(s) or organization(s) involved.

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