UVM developing new drone policy

UVM is developing a policy to make drone use safer on campus and at University-sanctioned events.

The University formed a group of people with legal experience and managers to address how drones will be used within the UVM community called the Drone Working Group, Al Turgeon, the group’s chair said.

“If you’re going to fly them on campus you need to request it through this Drone Working Group,” Turgeon said. “We will look at how the [drones] will be flown on campus, and if it conforms to Federal Aviation Administration rules.”

Members of the group said they have some concerns with students flying drones on campus.

“Some of these blades can cut and hurt someone so what we are trying to make sure is that we give the widest latitude to fly these things, but safely,” Turgeon said.

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Owner of BTV Drones Jordan Wires flies a drone over University Green, Nov. 19. Students are currently trying to start a drone flying club on campus but it will need to be approved by UVM Risk Management before being recognized by SGA. COURTNEY CUNNINGHAM/The Vermont Cynic

UVM’s drone policy would follow privacy policies the University already has in place, he said.

“We certainly wouldn’t want one of these things flying over a resident’s hall fourth floor and having them peering in on a student,” Turgeon said.

Drone regulation was spoken about by the Risk Management Team, Mary Dewey, director of Risk Management said.

UVM Department of Risk Management & Safety proposes solutions to possible health and safety hazards, according to the department’s website.

“Students won’t arbitrarily be allowed to fly drones on campus,” Dewey said.

While that might be the policy the school is working toward, UVM currently has no drone policy, group members said.

The FAA has guidelines on how to safely fly drones on their website.

The consequence for reckless use of a drone that endangers people or another aircraft is a fine, the guidelines state.

Jordan Wires, the owner of BTV Drones said that it is hard to police drone laws.

BTV Drones is a company that provides aerial video and photography with drones.

“At the end of the day the FAA can set their rules but there’s no one really there to enforce them,” Wires said.

Without a drone policy concerning issues could arise, he said.

“It’s not a matter of if you’re going to crash but when,” Wires said.

First-year Nelson Healy said he is hoping to form a club of responsible drone users on campus.

“People who are not involved in the community can just ignore the rules completely and that’s a problem because it makes everyone look bad,” Healy said.

The club is waiting for clearance from Risk Management before SGA recognition, Healy said.

UVM owns drones that they have used for GPS mapping, surveying land, accident flyovers and aerial imagery, according to members of the Drone Working Group.