License Requirements

FAA guidelines and University policy must be followed by all UAS users. During the Registration and Approval Process, all certification requirements will be reviewed. Proof of required certificates will be required at the time of applications. Any individuals not meeting the required certifications will not be approved.

MSU Employees and Students

Any university employee or student wishing to operate an MSU-owned UAS as part of their university employment or as part of a university program must comply with the FAA Part 107 Code of Federal Regulations and provide their Remote Pilot Certificate, or a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA).

If seeking a COA, the Office of Research Compliance (ORC) is the FAA account holder for COAs for Montana State University and processed all applications on a case-by-case basis. The following steps must be taken to obtain a COS. The COSA will be required as an attachment during the application process.

  1. After the Pre-Application has been approved, faculty, staff and students wishing to use UAS's in official University activities under a COA must complete the COA/Waiver Application Requirements Form and submit the completed form to the Office of Research Compliance for approval. Drafting the COA/Waiver application is the sole responsibility of the Office of Research Compliance.  
  2. Once the COA/Waiver request is complete the Office of Research Compliance will submit the application to the FAA on behalf of the University.  
  3. The outcome of the FAA decision regarding the COA will be relayed to the applicable faculty and/or staff. Note that FAA approval must be obtained before use of the UAS and may take from 60 – 120 days.  
  4. The Office of Research Compliance will maintain oversight for the execution of COAs/Waivers held by the University. 

UAS registration and flight request for MSU users

MSU users must register UAS equipment with Safety and Risk via the UAS Registration form. A flight request must also be submitted. MSU users may request an annual flight request then submit a flight plan for each flight during the year. 

Recreational Flyers

Those seeking to fly UAS on campus are not required to provide a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate but should have taken the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), and follow the rules for Recreational Flyers and all MSU policies. Recreational UAS operators are also required to provide a certificate of aviation liability insurance to fly on campus. 

Commercial Operators and News Media

Anyone operating a UAS for commercial purposes or for news media is required to provide a Remote Pilot Certificate, a certificate of aviation liability insurance (COI)  (see below: Insurance - Non-University Owned). 

Note: Any operator planning to film for media or commercial purposes please follow this link: How to Film at MSU.


Insurance - University Owned UAS

Purchasing and Registration

Prior to  any university faculty, staff, student or unit purchasing a UAS (or the parts to assemble a UAS) for university use, a review by Safety and Risk Management is required to assess the universit's ability to obtain insurance coverage for the requested use and that the use is consistent with university policies and insurance requirements.

To protect the University and others, UAS liability insurance is mandatory for all UAS activity by University faculty, staff, volunteers, and students. MSU Safety and Risk Management is the only office authorized to register University-owned UAS. Once your UAS is registered, it will automatically be covered for liability under the State of Montana's statutory self-insurance program. Procurement of hull damage coverage is optional and may be arranged at the same time.

MSU Employee or Student Operators

When University-owned UAS are operated by faculty, staff, volunteers or students for university purposes, they are covered for liability provided the aircraft is appropriately registered as described herein. If a Certificate of Insurance is requested by venues for off-campus use, please contact Safety and Risk Management.

Insurance - Non-University Owned

Insurance is required from non-university owned UAS operators,including on behalf of the University, to protect against claims for injuries to persons or damage to property which may arise from or in connection with the ownership, maintenance or use of the UAS. A Certificate of Insurance as described herein shall be provided during the application process.

UAS operators using non-MSU owned craft on university propertymust provide evidence of Owned / Non-Owned aviation liability insurance coverage with a limit of no less than $1,000,000, and no sublimits under $50,000. A Certificate of Insurance showing your policy applies to aircraft liabilities, in the amount stated, that names the  State of Montana and Montana State University as Additionally Insured shall be provided during the application process.  Such insurance shall be primary without any right of contribution from any other insurance available to MSU.  The purchase of any policy or adding the State of Montana and Montana State University as additionally insured shall not limit the defense of governmental immunity.

The certificate holder and additional insured should be shown as follows:  

The State of Montana and Montana State University  
c/o MSU Safety & Risk Management  
Montana State University  
Bozeman, MT 59717-0510  


If applicable, Auto Liability insurance for Owned, Non-Owned, Leased, Hired and Borrowed autos with split limits of $500,000 per person (personal injury), $1,000,000 per accident occurrence (personal injury), and $100,000 per accident occurrence (property damage), OR combined single limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence to cover such claims as may be caused by any act, omission, or negligence of Contractor or its officers, agents, representatives, assigns, or Subcontractors. The State of Montana and Montana State University shall be named as Additionally Insured on the Contractor’s policy."  For questions about this requirement or its applicability, please email:  [email protected]

Worker's Compensation Insurance

If applicable, commercial users must carry statutory limits as required by the State of Montana; or have a MT Independent Contractor’s Exemption Certificate. 

The University reserves the right to modify these requirements based on its determination of risk associated with the proposed activity. The following types of coverage may be needed for the use of UAS and ancillary business activities: Commercial Property, Professional Liability, Auto Liability, General Liability. 

Incidents and Accidents

The FAA requires notification of certain UAS accidents. Part 107.9 requires an accident be reported within 10 days after an operation that involves:

  1. Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or 
  2. Collision with other Uncrewed Aircraft Systems; or 
  3. Damage to any property, other than the small uncrewed aircraft, unless one of the following conditions are satisfied: 
    1. The cost to repair (including material and labor) does not exceed $500; or  
    2. The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of a total loss 

When any incidents or accidents occur that involves damage to MSU property, or injury or damage to property of others it must be reported to Safety and Risk Management.  The pilot in command shall make the report online within five days using the appropriate report form:

REPORT OF INCIDENT (for damage to University property or injuries to third parties)

FIRST REPORT OF INJURY (for employee injuries only, including student employees)

Any incident or accident occurring without proper insurance or without having completed the approval process will not be covered by the University, to include departmentally purchased UAS that have not been registered with Safety & Risk Management.