WSU reminds students with drones of new FAA restrictions

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is reminding drone-owning students returning to campus for the spring semester that Federal Aviation Administration regulations now require many unmanned aircraft systems to be federally registered and that none may be flown within five miles of existing airports, a restriction which effectively prohibits their use in the area of the Pullman campus.

WSU Police Chief Bill Gardner said that, under FAA regulations which took effect last month, all unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) that have a takeoff weight of more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams), including cameras and other sensors, must be registered with the FAA. Additional specifics regarding the new regulations are available at

Gardner said the use of any UAS on the Pullman campus was already effectively prohibited under FAA regulations because the campus lies within a five-mile radius of the Moscow-Pullman Regional Airport. The restriction precludes UAS vehicles from being operated within the airport zone without prior permission from both the Moscow-Pullman Regional Airport manager and the WSU Pullman Office of Public Safety.

He said WSU Police are requesting that students flying drones off campus and outside of the airport 5 statue mile boundary also observe the following restrictions and recommendations:

  • Fly drones below 400 feet altitude because most manned aircraft fly at 500 feet altitude and above.
  • Keep drones in sight at all times; and remain aware of where drones are heading
  • Never fly over groups of people, stadiums or sporting events.
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts.
  • Use a second person as an observer to watch for low flying aircraft (such as helicopters and crop dusters). Remember that even though you can see them, they may not be able to see your drone.
  • Use the new FAA “B4UFLY” smartphone app to confirm that there are no restrictions within your intended flying area (see


Robert Strenge, WSU News, 509-335-3583,