New Penn State Policy on Drone Flights

Cartoon picture of a drone

Office for Research Protections     |    Unmanned Air Systems


The University has recently revised its policy for unmanned aircraft, or drone, flights. The revised policy includes new flight requirements, an approval process, and pilot responsibilities.

Under “SY45 Use of Unmanned Aircraft,” the UA Operations Manager must approve all UA flights on University property or as part of a University activity, including recreational flights. The University only allows recreational flights on University property for Penn State employees and students. Pilots can request approval at the UA Operations website. Requests should be made as far in advance as possible but at least 1 week before the intended flight date.  Currently, UA Operations is not approving flights at the College of Medicine campus in Hershey, because flights there are prohibited at this time.

Before a flight can be approved, pilots must have completed Penn State’s UA training requirements.  Please contact the UA Operations Manager for more information on the training requirements.

Pilots requesting approval will need to submit a flight plan, which must include flight location, flight dates and durations, a step-by-step description of flight procedures, and a risk analysis for the flight(s). The UA Operations website provides guidance for developing a plan.

When drone flights are for University research or business, FAA Part 107 Rules apply, and the drone must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration and operated only by a pilot with an FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification.  University employees and students flying on University property for recreational purposes must adhere to FAA Part 101 regulations. Recreational fliers are also required to adhere to the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code (AMA). This can be accessed at Some flights have additional requirements, which may include approval by other University offices.

For more information, go to the UA Operations website.  If you still have questions, contact UAOperations at 814-865-1775 or