Carnegie Mellon University

Unmanned Aircraft Systems / Drone Safety Program

Contact Us: drones@andrew.cmu.edu

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), including aircraft commonly known as drones, are used at Carnegie Mellon University in a variety of ways related to academics, research, business and recreation. All members of the Carnegie Mellon community and guests on university property are expected to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws regarding the operation of UAS. In particular, all outdoor UAS operations must comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Indoor UAS operation is not regulated by the FAA.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) / Drone Program. 

Log into the UAS portal to:

Registration (link to the UAS Registration form): The UAS / Drone CMU registration form is intended for registering the UAS / Drone purchased with CMU funding which is then owned by the university. This registration process ensures the CMU owned UAS / Drone is registered through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under the CMU UAS / Drone account. The UAS / Drone owner should complete the registration process.

For step-by-step guidance on completing the form reference the Registration Form User Guide

Indoor Flight Space (link to the Indoor Flight Space form): Current space owners of indoor flight spaces or those seeking to establish an indoor flight space shall complete a New Indoor Flight Space request to identify the location, space contacts and the timeline for use. This information will be reviewed for approval by the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Committee. Upon approval Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) will track the space and affiliated details, will perform the initial inspection to ensure minimum requirements are met, and an annual inspection thereafter to ensure requirements are maintained.

For step-by-step guidance on completing the form reference the Indoor Flight Space Request Form User Guide

Flight Operations (link to the Flight Operations form): Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) will verify the UAS / Drone registration, Pilot training, insurance coverage, and applicable contracts. The flight operations request will be routed to the space owners and the committee for comments and
feedback.

For step-by-step guidance on completing the form reference the Request Approval for Flight Operations User Guide

Complete the Post-Flight Operations Survey

After completing your approved flight operations, you will be prompted to complete the Post-Flight Operations Survey.  This survey is intended to help Environmental Health and Safety track details regarding the completed UAS/Drone flights. 

For step-by-step guidance on completing the survey reference the Post-Flight Operations Survey User Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The owner of the UAS/Drone shall complete the registration form found on the UAS/Drone Portal. The UAS/Drone CMU registration form is intended for registering UAS/Drone purchased with CMU funding and is then owned by the university. This registration process ensures the CMU owned UAS/Drones are registered through the FAA under the CMU UAS/Drone account.

At least 2 business days before the flight, the faculty, staff, or student who would like to fly a UAS/Drone over University Property should fill out the Flight Operations Request Form found on the UAS Portal. The form is submitted to EHS who will verify the UAS/Drone registration, Pilot training, insurance coverage, and applicable contracts. The flight operations request will be routed to the space owners and the committee for comments and feedback. Once approved, the requester will receive notice of the approval.

Before flying a CMU owned UAS/Drone, the following steps need to be completed:

  • Register the drone through the UAS/Drone Registration Process
  • Those wishing to fly the drone will need to complete the following trainings before conducting unsupervised UAS/Drone flights:
    • FAA Remote Pilot Certificate as noted in the FAA's Small UAS/Drone Rule for outdoor flights (Part 107) (this training is not required when operating the UAS indoors).
    • FAA Trust Training for flights occurring indoors.
    • CMU-Sponsored Training regardless of the flight location.
  • The UAS/Drone Pilot needs to complete a Flight Operation Request prior to operating a UAS/Drone over University Property.
  • A Flight Operation Closure Form once the flight has been completed.

Yes, CMU has developed the UAS/Drone Program to ensure drones used for academic, research business and recreation comply with applicable laws, mitigate safety risks, and protect the security and privacy of the CMU community.

Indoor UAS/Drone flights on University Property shall only be conducted in approved

spaces. Space owners who wish to create an indoor flight space shall complete a New Indoor Flight Space request form for initial approval from the UAS/Drone Committee. New and approved indoor flight spaces shall be inspected by EHS annually to ensure minimum requirements are met. EHS will track approved indoor flight spaces.

Faculty, staff, students, and approved vendors acting on behalf of the university can fly a UAS/Drone on CMU property once they have successfully completed the FAA and CMU registration process, FAA Pilot requirements, UAS/Drone Flight Approval Request Form, and minimum training requirements.

UAS/Drone Pilots conducting flight operations shall have the following trainings before conducting unsupervised UAS/Drone flights:

  • FAA Remote Pilot Certificate as noted in the FAA's Small UAS Rule for outdoor flights (Part 107) (this training is not required when operating the UAS/Drone indoors).
  • FAA Trust Training for flights occurring indoors.
  • CMU-Sponsored Training regardless of the flight location.

Any incident that results in injury or property damage must be reported to the University immediately by emailing drones@andrew.cmu.edu. Any incident or injury that is considered an emergency must be reported to University Police immediately. Damages and/or injuries occurring to University Property or individuals will be the responsibility of the UAS operator. Any incident resulting in serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage greater than $500 must be reported to the FAA within 10 calendar days.

If changes to the approved flight request occur, the UAS/Drone Pilot will need to complete the Flight Operation Change Form. In addition, if an approved flight is canceled, a Cancellation Form needs to be completed.

No, UAS/Drones that are over 55 lbs are not included in the scope of the UAS/Drone program and must instead adhere to the applicable FAA rules. Contact drones@andrew.cmu.edu  for additional assistance.