Federal Aviation Administration Overview

The United States has the safest and most complex airspace in the world. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authority over this airspace from the ground up, and is responsible for making sure air traffic flies smoothly and efficiently.

The federal rules apply to all persons using drones anywhere for any reason, including for work, research, or fun. Anyone operating a drone is responsible for flying within applicable FAA rules and regulations. For more information regarding the federal rules that may apply to your planned drone use, please see the applicable section below.

If you have any questions about your planned operation and applicable federal regulations, please contact Leah Vargas in the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at leah.vargas@csus.edu or Gary Rosenblum in the Office of Risk Management at gary.rosenblum@csus.edu.


Anyone who would like to fly a drone for work-related purposes on or off campus will most likely be subject to the FAA's small UAS Rule (Part 107). In general, any use of drones that does not constitute hobby or recreational use, or student educational purposes (see next section) are subject to FAA Part 107.

The campus currently has insurance coverage for non-commerical use by Sacramento State employees. Campus employees may need to consider insurance implications or coverage and are encouraged to contact Risk Management with questions.

Examples of Work Use by Sacramento State employees:

  • Research or scholarly activity (may also be subject to IRB review),
  • Facilities inspections,
  • Recording practice for athletics,
  • Filming or photography for Sacramento State public relations, Sacramento State owned social media accounts, websites, etc.


Part 107 Requirements

  1. Register your drone: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/registration/
  2. Get a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/part_107/remote_pilot_cert/


Part 107 Operating Rules

  • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
  • Fly in Class G airspace*
  • Don't fly in controlled airspace near airports without FAA permission
  • Keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight*
  • Fly at or below 400 feet*
  • Fly during daylight or civil twilight*
  • Fly at or under 100 mph*
  • Yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Do not fly directly over people*
  • Do not fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area*

*The FAA can waive some of these requirements. To request a waiver, click here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/.

The FAA, in a Memorandum, has interpreted that the use of drones by students at accredited educational institutions as a component of science, technology, and aviation-related educational curricula or other coursework (such as, but not limited to, television and film production or the arts) more closely reflects and embodies the purposes of "hobby and recreational" use and are subject to the FAA's Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

Students are, therefore, directed to the Hobby and Recreational Use information below for any use of drones for educational purposes.

The FAA Special Rule can only be applied to hobby and recreational use, or to student educational purposes. If drone use will not comply with the Special Rule, then the FAA's small UAS Rule (Part 107) will apply (see Work-Related Use above for Part 107 information).

FAA Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336) Requirements:

  • Fly for hobby or recreation ONLY
  • Register your model aircraft: https://faadronezone.faa.gov/#/
  • Follow community-based safety guidelines and fly within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization: http://www.modelaircraft.org/files/100.pdf.
  • Fly a model aircraft under 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization
  • Fly within visual line-of-sight
  • Never fly near other aircraft
  • Notify the airport and air traffic control tower prior to flying within 5 miles of an airport*
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts


*The person flying the model aircraft is responsible for contacting the airport directly. Many phone numbers for airports are available here:


Drone Safety Tips from the FAA

  • Fly your drone at or below 400 feet
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Be aware of FAA Airspace Restrictions
  • Respect privacy - see State and Local Laws for privacy law information
  • Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people
  • Never fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts


More information about hobby and recreational use can be found here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/.

California Laws


State Parks


Local Parks