Flying Drone

Sam Houston State University has established an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advisory Committee (UASAC) to ensure UAS/UAV’s operated on behalf of SHSU meet all state, federal, safety, institutional, ethical, and community standards and requirements related to research.

Vision

A world where unmanned aircraft systems are safely and responsibly used to improve lives.

Mission

To develop university policy governing research involving UAS while ensuring that activities involving UAS are safe, responsible, and legally complies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Goals

  • Serve as the oversight committee that reviews requests from individual researchers whose research will involve UAS.
  • Monitor the FAA and other state and federal regulations regarding UAS to ensure that the University is up-to-date all current UAS legislation.
  • Review complaints from individuals who allege that studies conducted at the University have been in violation of University policy on research with UAS.
  • Provide training and education to University researchers interested in utilizing UAS technology in their research.
  • Recommends policy or procedures pertaining to UAS operations in research to the University’s Office of the President.
  • Conduct safe, efficient, effective operations in support of our mission.

Follow the links below to open:

FAA and Federal Regulations 

The FAA is requiring UAS registration. All owners of small UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. must register using this new system. Please make sure you review the FAA FAQs here. For all other UAS, registration is required prior to operation. Click here to register.

There are plenty of other great resources on the web that discusses the FAA rules and regulations. Please review the FAA news release on Part 107 Rule., which was issued on June 21, 2016. Here are some simple basics to get you started:

  • Always maintain a line-of-sight of your aircraft. (This is good for you as a pilot and for your controller which needs to connect to the aircraft.)
  • Stay under 400 feet. (This is designed to keep your aircraft away from full sized aircraft which may be operating above that altitude)
  • Don't Fly over Crowds. (A safety issue)
  • Safe Operation - See FAR §91.13 "Safe Operational" required by the FAA and NTSB
  • Don't fly within 5 nautical miles of large airports (exception to this rule: this may be possible when ATC is notified).

State of Texas Laws

Please download and review them.

Online Resources

  • Don’t Fly UAS Here: This No-Fly Zones map represent where it is not recommended to fly UAS due to regulations. It is not comprehensive.
  • UAS Law Journal

Q: Definition of a UAS vs. UAV vs. Drone?

A: The acronym UAS stands for unmanned aircraft systems and includes the platform (unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV]), payload, control station, avionics, and the pilot or operator. UAS, on the other hand, refer to UAVs that may be programmed remotely to complete a task. Only FAA operators approved by the UAS Committee in accordance with university policy will use UAS in campus research, ensuring there is always a human element in command.

Q: Steps being taken to ensure the safety of individuals, animals, buildings, and the environment?

A: All approved SHSU research UAS will be used in accordance with the current federal, state, and city law, regulations and ordinances, as well as University policy and TSUS Rules and Regulations.

Q: How do I begin planning to use a UAS in my research project?

A: Start by reading and reviewing the current SHSU Policy (President’s Office Policy PRE-27). Then make an appointment with Ms. Sharla Miles, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs UAS consultant, Mr. Steve Shields, Executive Director, EHS & Risk Management, or Dr. John Wilson, Chair of the UAS Committee and member of the Physics faculty. Note: You are no longer required to obtain a COA or a 333 Exemption; however, you will be required to take and pass the FAA written examination. The results of this exam must be submitted with your UAS application request.

Q: Can I borrow a SHSU UAS for my project?

A: At this time, we do not have UASs available for rent.

Q: Can I create and fly my own UAS for my project?

A: In the interest of having your COA (Certificate of Authorization) approved, it is recommended that you purchase a UAS that has already been approved on previous COAs by the FAA.

Q: When and where will SHSU be flying UASs for research?

A: FAA regulations only allow UAS flights in daylight, during good weather, and in areas of limited for UAS use. Specific information as to where and when flights will take place will be posted to the SHSU UAS website as it becomes available. FAA will not permit nighttime flights; but the new final rule said this prohibition can be waived only in limited circumstances. Contact the ORSP to discuss your specific waiver request.

Q: How does a UAS avoid impacting the safe operations of other aircraft in our area?

A: A notice to airmen (NOTAM) is filed with the FAA and local air traffic control facilities identifying UAS operations in the area. Every pilot is encouraged by the FAA to check all local area NOTAMs prior to flight.

For questions, issues, or concerns regarding the process for obtaining approval for use of an UAS, please contact the following individuals:

Dr. John Wilson, Chair, UAS Committee
Phone: 936.294.1607

Sharla Miles, Coordinator, UAS Committee
Phone: 936.294.4875

UAS Committee Members

Steve Shields

Andy Bennett

Dr. Pamela Zelbst

Dr. Jack Hill

Ex-officio Member: Rhonda Beassie