Unmanned Aircraft Systems – FAQ

Answers to commonly asked questions. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact the Office of Research Support and Operations.

Are your concerns and questions important?!

YES!!! We welcome your interest in WSU research UASs. If you cannot find what you are looking for on our pages, please contact us at the Office of Research Operations and Support.

Definition of a UAS vs. UAV vs. Drone?

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. Drones, on the other hand, refer to UAVs that may be programmed remotely to complete a task. Only FAA approved operators will use UASs in campus research, ensuring there is always a human element in command.

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

All approved WSU research UASs will be used in accordance with the current FAA, state of Washington, and city of Pullman regulations and ordinances, as well as WSU Policies and Procedures.

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

Please contact the Office of Research Support and Operations. Email orso@wsu.edu with a brief description of your project, how UAS will be used, where you anticipate flying, and how often. We will follow up with you to discuss options and next steps.

Can I borrow a WSU UAS for my project?

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

Can I fly a UAS at the Apple Cup, SpringFest, or any event on campus?

This would be a non-research use of UAS. If you are interested in flying UAS in your personal capacity using your own UAS, then the FAA rules for recreational use apply. The City of Pullman has posted safety guidelines for use of UAS at http://www.pullman-wa.gov/departments/police/information-for-citizens/drones-uas-uav. For requirements regarding educational demonstrations conducted in your official capacity as an employee of WSU or using WSU-owned UAS please contact the Office of the Provost.

Can I hire a UAS firm to fly over our campus event?

You are welcome to hire a company with an FAA approval for commercial UAS operation, however since the Pullman campus is within 5 miles of the Pullman Moscow Airport, it would also require coordination with the local air traffic authority. The coordinator for commercial use of UAS is the Contracts Office (https://contracts.wsu.edu/contact-information/ or 509-335-7223).

Will I be buzzed by a WSU Research UAS while I am on campus or at home with my family?

WSU Research UASs will only be allowed to fly over those involved in the project and will not be flown over private land without previously obtaining permission from the land’s owner to do so.

Did you see or find an UAS that may belong to WSU?

Please see our Contact Page.

When and where will WSU be flying UASs for research?

FAA regulations only allow for daylight and good weather for UAS use.

Will the operation of the UAS affect the ability of other aircraft in our area to operate safely?

No. A notice to airmen (NOTAM) is filed with the FAA and local ATC facilities identifying UAS operations in the area. Every pilot is encouraged by the FAA to check all local area NOTAMs prior to flight.


Office of Research Support and Operations
Lighty 280, PO Box 641060
Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1060
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