How to operate a UAS at UVA

Before you fly the first time:

  1. Register your UAS.  (click here to register on FAA Drone Registration site) FAA requires registration. If you have problems registering, let us know, we can help.
  2. Obtain the required Remote Pilot’s license (Learn how to get a licence)
    • What if I am not a pilot? contact the Operations Manager, you need to have a licenced pilot present when you fly, we can help!
    • For each flight:

      A) Request permission at least two weeks in advance.

      An example of a completed “Request to Operate” is here. A blank copy is here.
      Send the completed copy to the Operations Manager (uasoperationsmanager@virginia.edu). The more information you can provide the better: Exactly where do you want to fly? When do you want to fly? What is the purpose of the flight? When possible submit a map or a sketch of the proposed flight area with the flight limits clearly marked. If special waivers, authorizations or permission from the property owner are required, submit copies. It may be necessary to request permission for multiple times or multiple days, even though you are not likely to operate at all these times. For example, you might wish to fly in the morning, say on Tuesday the 20th, but as it is impossible to predict the weather far enough in advance, you request permission to fly Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and explain that you will operate on one of these dates, depending on weather.


      If you need to make a request for multiple flights, do so, but try to distinguish between multiple flights and weather contingencies. The more obvious the justification of the request for multiple dates the easier it will be to review. Example, you might ask to fly each Tuesday in April to capture the unique colors of spring. A request to fly from 10:00 – 11:00 A.M. for the dates July 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 might be difficult to review and approve. If in doubt contact the Operations Manager to discuss your particular situation to arrive at a reasonable request which will in turn facilitate the best possible approval. The Operations Manager will return your request with an approval (with conditions), a disapproval, or a request for more information. If approved (with or without conditions), sign to accept and return a signed copy to the OM. You should take a copy of the signed approval with you when you fly.


      Depending on where and when you will be flying, your approval may require that you notify MedCom and/or the Albemarle County Emergency Communications Center. The instructions and the phone numbers will be in your approval.

      B) When permission is received, sign and return


      C) Prepare and pre-flight carefully and follow the notifications required.

      1) The FAA requires that every UAS must be registered before flight. While you can register your UAS yourself (with UVA as the owner) it would be best to ask the UVA Operations Manager (OM) to do this for you. The OM has established an account for UVA and the process takes just a few minutes. Register your UAS  (click here to register) Contact OM (email: uasoperationsmanager@virginia.edu)


      2) A UAS Pilot’s license is required to operate a UAS in any setting other than as a hobbyist. The process for obtaining a license is reasonably simple, though a written test is required. The requirements for pilots holding licenses under Part 161 (“private pilots”) are even simpler. Under some circumstances (e.g., you only wish to do one or two flights) it might be easier to ask one of the other UVA UAS pilots to act as Remote Pilot in Command. The UVA OM can suggest possible pilots.