BCC Drone Policy

Approved January 28, 2020
The operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (e.g. drones) is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and as well as relevant state laws and local ordinances. Berkshire Community College (BCC) is establishing procedures to ensure compliance with these legal obligations and to reduce the risk to safety, security, and privacy.


This policy applies to operators of UAS.  Operators include:

  1. BCC employees and students operating unmanned aircraft systems in any location as part of their College employment, academic programming or as part of other College-related activities;
  2. Any person operating an unmanned aircraft system on or above BCC property within 400 feet of the ground surface; and
  3. A third-party hired by a College department to operate a UAS as part of a College-related program.


BCC Property – Buildings, grounds, and land that are owned, controlled or occupied by Berkshire Community College.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) - According to the FAA, a UAS is an unmanned aircraft and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft. Unmanned aircraft include quadcopters, multirotors, helicopters, drones, and fixed-wing models if these aircraft are used for any purpose other than recreation. FAA regulations apply to UAS regardless of size or weight, however, unmanned aircraft weighing less than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) are not required to be registered with the FAA.


  1. For policy compliance: Operators as defined herein.
  2. For policy development, documentation, and implementation: Academic Technology, Security, Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance Department, and Pittsfield Airport.
  3. For policy enforcement:  Security, the Director of Safety and Security, Dean of Student Affairs, and the Vice President for Administration and Finance.


Operators must comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to the operation of UAS.  Depending on the potential risks associated with UAS operations, some UAS operations may require additional safety measures, policy considerations, and insurance provisions, or in more extreme cases, may only be conducted by third parties with suitable qualifications, equipment, and insurance.


  1. All operators are personally responsible for complying with FAA regulations, state and federal laws and regulations, and BCC policies, including but not limited to the FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107).  Key parts of the FAA Part 107 rule include but are not limited to:
    • Operator must maintain a visual line of sight with the UAS at all times
    • Visual line of sight may not be aided by any device except corrective lenses
    • A UAS may not be operated over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, or not inside a covered stationary vehicle
    • A UAS may be operated during daylight hours only
    • Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level is permitted
    • No UAS shall be operated from a moving vehicle
  2. The following operational UAS weight restrictions shall apply to all operators of UAS:
    • Research and/or educational use: under 55lb as regulated by the FAA
    • Any purpose other than research and/or educational use: under 10lb for safety
  3. Before operating a UAS on BCC Property or in affiliation with BCC, an operator must first receive written permission from the Director of Safety and Security through filing a Flight Request Application at least 48 hours before use. Operators can complete a Flight Request Application.
    • Operators must show the following in order to be granted permission:
      • Evidence of Remote Pilot’s License
      • For UASs weighing more than 250 grams (.55 lb.): evidence of registration as per FAA requirements
      • Proof of liability insurance of no less than $1M for UAS operations.  Operators can purchase coverage through the Academy of Model Aeronautics among others
    • As BCC is within 5 miles of Pittsfield Airport, a copy of the Flight Request will also be sent to the Pittsfield Airport for their records
    • The Director of Safety and Security reserves the right to deny any operator the authority to operate a UAS on BCC property or in affiliation with BCC
      • Operators who contend that their request to operate has been unfairly denied may appeal the decision to BCC UAS Review Committee.
    • Operators must carry written evidence of permission at all times while operating UAS on BCC Property.
  4. As per FAA guidance, UAS operations are mapped to a risk matrix with safety measures and approval requirements commensurate with the level of risk. 

    UAS Weight Class 

    < 250g
    (< .55lb)
    BCC Natural Areas:
    Forest, Field, and Wetland
    Low Med-Low Medium
    BCC Athletic Facilities:
    Playing Fields, Practice Areas
    Med-Low Medium Med-High
    BCC Campus Infrastructure:
    Buildings, Roads, Parking Lots, Pathways, Lawns
    Medium Med-High High
    The risk matrix above assumes that the specified areas are unoccupied or nearly unoccupied at the time of the UAS operation.  All operations should be mapped to the campus risk matrix as closely as possible when assessing the need for permissions and additional safety measures.

    Generally, faculty and staff who have received authority to operate may operate UAS and directly supervise students operating UAS in the Low and Med-Low categories of the risk matrix.

    UAS operations in the Medium and higher risk categories will be reviewed by the BCC UAS Review Committee. To assist the Committee with their review, operations in these categories will also require completion of a Flight Waiver Application detailing additional safety measures. These measures could include, for example, a tether, a netted enclosure, or test flights demonstrating safe outcomes if the UAS experiences loss of power, a lost communication link, or lost GPS signal.

    It is anticipated that some operations, especially those in the High-risk category, may not be permitted by BCC.
  5. Any College employee, student, or unit providing a College-owned UAS to a third party for any purposes other than research or education, regardless if a fee is charged, needs first to receive approval through the BCC UAS Review Committee.
  6. In operating a UAS for purposes of recording or transmitting visual images, operators must take all reasonable precautions to avoid areas normally considered to be private. UASs should not enter onto, overfly, survey, or create a nuisance on any other private property except with written permission from the landowner.
  7. Any UAS operator who intends to operate a UAS on BCC property or in affiliation with BCC must first complete and submit a Program Participant Agreement or a Third-Party Program Waiver. [Download Waiver]
  8. UAS operation plans must proactively prevent and minimize disturbance to all wildlife. Launch and recovery locations and flight path parameters should maintain reasonable distances while minimizing noise and visual stimulation from approach trajectories or sporadic flight movements. UAS operations may not approach or pursue wildlife or interfere in any way with seasonal life cycle activities. All BCC Natural Areas (see number 4 above) are known to support sensitive wildlife.
  9. Use of UAS must comply with any other applicable Federal, State, Municipal, and College policies.


Any violations of College policies by an individual will be dealt with in accordance with applicable College policies and procedures, which may include disciplinary actions up to and including termination.

Legal prohibitions regarding physical presence on campus/trespassing and other legal action may also be pursued against third parties that operate UAS in violation of this policy.

Fines incurred by individuals or units that do not comply with this policy will not be paid by BCC and will be the responsibility of those persons involved.