Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) including drones and model aircraft is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and relevant state law. Cal Poly must comply with FAA requirements, state law, and any other locally applicable laws or regulations regarding unmanned aircraft systems. Inherent risks in the operation of such equipment require additional insurance provisions and University policy compliance.

UAS Use/Operation Requirements

UAS use and/or operation may be conducted by faculty, staff, students, or third parties (including but not limited to consultants, volunteers, contractors, vendors, or suppliers) on or around University property whether acting on behalf of the University or not, with:

UAS use and/or operation by faculty, staff, students, or third parties on University property, including but not limited to recreational or hobby flight of model aircraft, is prohibited except as approved by the UAS Committee. Use and/or operation means no take-offs, landings, or operations of any kind from University property or on behalf of the University on non-University property.

If you would like to request to operate your UAS, please:

  1. Fill out the Application for the Operation of an UAS form and Flight Readiness Review (FRR) template at least 30 days before your scheduled flight.
  2. Email your application and FRR to riskmanagement@calpoly.edu so they can be distributed to the UAS Committee for consideration.
  3. Risk Management will schedule a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) presentation with the applicant, pilot, campus sponsor where applicable, and the UAS Committee.
  4. Approval letter sent to requestor if the flight is approved *Must have a copy of this letter for the flight.

Please note that flights involving UAS that are owned and piloted by outside entities/vendors require a campus sponsor and evidence of insurance including drone liability coverage (see Insurance Requirements section for details). The campus sponsor acts as a liaison between the outside entity/vendor and the UAS Committee and assists the pilot with access to the operational area at the time of flight.

UAS Purchase and Registration Requirements

If you would like to purchase and register an UAS, please fill out the application form here. Once you submit the form, it will route to Risk Management and Risk Management will distribute it to the UAS Committee for consideration; If approved, Risk Management will register the UAS for you.

Any University employee, student, or department purchasing an UAS (or the parts to assemble an UAS), or UAS services with university funds or funds being disbursed through the Cal Poly Partners, Cal Poly Foundation, ASI, or Grants Development must fill out the application form in order to assess the University's ability to obtain a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA, other necessary FAA exemptions, or meet local compliance requirements. Approval for purchase is granted by the UAS Committee.

If approval is granted by the UAS Committee, the purchase must be submitted via a purchase requisition. ProCard or personal purchases (reimbursements) are not permitted.


Drone Log

Please visit the Drone Log for the official list of registered drones. This page requires that you first authenticate through the Cal Poly Portal. Please note only Faculty and Staff have authorization to view this list.

Insurance Requirements

Insurance - University Owned UAS: When University-owned UAS are operated by faculty, staff, volunteers, or students for university purposes, they are covered for liability provided the aircraft is appropriately registered as described herein. If a Certificate of Insurance is requested by venues for off-campus use, please contact Risk Management.

Insurance - Non-University Owned UAS: Insurance is required from non-university owned UAS operators including on behalf of the University to protect against claims for injuries to persons or damage to property that may arise from or in connection with the ownership, maintenance, or use of the UAS. A Certificate of Insurance as described herein shall be provided during the application process.

Educational Flight Range

Located at Chorro Creek Ranch, Cal Poly’s Educational Flight Range consists of a 500 by 50 foot paved runway, an aircraft preparation area, a vehicle parking area, and a visitor’s viewing area for invited guests. Please note that UAS Committee approval is not required for this site and the Educational Flight Range is for the operation of Radio Control aircraft only (Airplanes, gliders, scale aircraft, drones, helicopters). Rockets, RC cars, etc. are strictly prohibited. To learn more about the Educational Flight Range, please visit the SloFlyers RC Airplane Club website.


For questions, please contact:
Mike Morgan

Additional Resources