Ethics & Compliance: Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) to facilitate the integration of UAS safely into the National Air System (NAS).  Unmanned Aircraft Systems are regulated for reasons of safety, efficiency, and capacity.  The FAA has developed rules, regulations, policies, and procedures to support safe integration.  In support of the efforts by the FAA, the Texas A&M AgriLife Ethics and Compliance Office has established a Supervising Authority to oversee safe and compliant UAS and model aircraft activity.  Texas A&M AgriLife is committed to operating UAS in accordance with FAA rules and regulations, the Texas A&M System regulations and agency rules and procedures.

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Approval Process
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UAS Approval Process Texas A&M AgriLife-Off Campus Research, Extension & TVMDL

Texas A&M AgriLife has established a Supervising Authority to review and approve UAS flights that occur by employees outside of Brazos County excluding the Brazos Bottom Farm. This approval process applies to agency employees, vendors, visitors, and students operating UAS on any property owned or leased by the agency, or employees operating UAS on property not owned or leased by the agency as part of their employment.

All applications should be submitted a minimum of 15 business days before desired flight date.

There are three ways to fly UAS at Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Extension or TVMDL facilities:

  • In accordance with an FAA-issued Public
  • In accordance with FAA Part 107 rules.
  • For educational purposes

Hobbyists are not allowed to fly UAS on Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Extension or TVMDL property.

(Exemptions for educational or demonstration purposes upon request may be granted)

To fly UAS in accordance with an FAA-issued Public COA or in accordance with FAA Part 107 rules:

Applications along with all requested documentation should be provided to avoid delays in processing applications. (list provided below):

  • Completed online application
  • Copy of original Part 107 pilot license and any recurrent training as needed for each pilot listed on the application
  • Copy of UAS Certificate of Registration for each drone listed on the application
  • Image of each drone listed on the application with the FA and asset numbers affixed
  • Sectional chart of each flight location as needed (If multiple flight locations are found on a single sectional chart, duplicates are not needed)
  • Current Contingency Management and Mishap Response plan (Mission Brief and System Risk Matrix) for each location to include:
    • Area restrictions
    • Provisions to prevent flights over people and vehicles
    • Loss of control or connection to the unmanned aircraft, including loss of control link, loss of GPS, and loss of power.
    • Actions on sighting of a piloted aircraft, and actions upon a crash of unmanned aircraft.
    • Maintenance logs, if no maintenance logs are available, provide a statement as to why.
    • Accident log, if no accidents, provide statement to this effect.
    • FAA COA, if applicable
    • Certificate of insurance, if applicable
    • If flights take place over private property (any property not owned by TAMUS), an email or letter from the property owner will be required.

Completed on-line applications will be reviewed by the Supervising Authority; any questions will be directed to the individual who completed the application.

The Supervising Authority reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule any approved UAS usage, if doing so is in the best interest of the agency. Note: If an accident occurs during flight, the remote pilot in command (RPIC) is responsible for submitting an accident report to the Texas A&M AgriLife Supervising Authority within 48 hours. This report will be retained with the original application and associated documents.

To fly a UAS for educational/demonstration purposes:

  • Submit the following information to Ethics and Compliance through email at
  • Name of Center or Department
  • Name and contact information of AgriLife employee responsible for the demonstration or educational lesson
  • Description of UAS to be flown
  • Registration number of UAS to be flown
  • Area requested for flight

Description of activities related to UAS flight. Note that educational/demonstration use of UAS only allows the visitors to fly the UAS; employee’s role must be incidental and secondary to the visitor’s (e.g., regain control in the event the visitor begins to lose control, terminate the flight, etc.).

Summary of Responsibilities.

The Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC) is responsible for all components associated with safe flight of the UAS and compliance with applicable FAA rules and regulations.

The applicant granted approval for use is responsible for any damage resulting from the use of UAS on AgriLife property. If the applicant is an AgriLife employee/department, using a third-party contractor to operate UAS, liability for damage must be otherwise assigned contractually to this third party. See insurance requirements below.

The RPIC must submit an Accident Report to the Supervising Authority within 48 hours of any accident that occurs during an approved flight.

Summary of Requirements:

The insurance requirements associated with use of UAS on AgriLife property will be determined by University Risk Management, in consultation with A&M System Risk Management.

For insurance requirements refer to System Regulation

All AgriLife-owned or acquired UAS must be properly registered in accordance with FAA requirements. Use the FAA’s Web site to register UAS: Additionally, all UAS must be placed on inventory and have an asset number assigned.

For definitions related to the UAS Program, refer to System Regulation 24.01.07 .


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System Risk Management UAS information:

System Risk Management UAS Information

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Training: Authorization for flight under Part 107 requires a Remote Pilot Certification: you can obtain training at any of the suggested entities below. (Not required entities to use)

Once you have received training you must take an aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved testing center to obtain your certification. Below is a link to the FAA-approved facilities.

Recurrent Training Courses for Drone Pilots Available Online | Federal Aviation Administration (


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For more information, please contact AgriLife Ethics and Compliance | Kevin Helmer and Stephen Lopez at or 979.314.3442.

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