How do I sign up for ground school?

          If you wish to sign up for ground school, please do so by emailing the DO directly at oisc_flightops@colorado.edu.

How do I obtain approval to fly on campus?

If you wish to gain approval for on campus-flight, email oisc_flightops@colorado.edu

What format is required for NOTAM center points, and why is this format required?

NOTAM center points must be defined based on a distance and radial from a VOR: this takes the form of VVVRRRDDD.D in which 'VVV' represents the VOR identifier, 'RRR' represents the radial of the VOR, and 'DDD.D' represents the distance. Using a center point defined by latitude and longitude is not acceptable. These center point requirements come from the fact that current COAs are expressed legally as a renewal of older COAs - for example, the current blanket COA is legally a renewal of the oldest blanket COA. These original COAs explicitly require that NOTAM center points be defined by a VOR radial and distance. Consider the language in the original blanket COA: "The NOTAM must identify ... a Radial/DME fix ofa prominent navigational aid." So, although modern COAs do not explicitly delineate this requirement, the requirement still holds because modern COAs are legally renewals of older COAs which do explicitly require NOTAMs to be submitted in this manner. Further, defining NOTAM center points in this manner is much more meaningful to manned pilots: recall that the goal of submitting NOTAMs is to alert other users of the National Airspace System of UAS activities. If a set of coordinates is used, it's very difficult to estimate where this is without mapping tools. If a VOR distance and radial is used, the location of the UAS operation can be quickly determined by using an sectional chart. See our training videos for more information on NOTAM submission.

Do I need a personal logbook? 

No, please use Alaris Pro for all logging.

After my Initial UAS checkride am I certified as a Visual Observer (VO)?

Yes. As a PIC you are taught on the responsibilities and common actions of a VO along with what should be discussed in VO related briefings. As such you yourself will be certified as a VO and can act as a VO on other missions.

Can a non CU employee, student, or personnel be trained as a VO?

Typically, for all certification processes, the CU Boulder Flight Operations department is responsible for and has jurisdiction over training CU-affiliated personnel to fly under CU owned COAs. With that being said, the department does recognize that there are inconvenient coordination issues and at times it may be easier serve to have VOs unaffiliated with CU. As such the department does allow for nonaffiliated CU members to get trained and certified as VOs to help with CU COA UAS missions. Regardless of affiliation, the potential VO will need to be trained by the CU Boulder Flight Operations Department.

What is the difference between UAS preflight inspection check and maintenance log?

The preflight inspection/condition checks pertains to checking the UAS for any common damage from pervious flight or “hanger/storage rash”. This includes checks for small cracks, missed connections, damaged propellers, servo hinges, etc. The maintenance log tracks any replaced parts, major fixes, software updates, etc. It is a great tool especially when the UAS is being used by different personnel and allows the PIC to identify changes.

What’s the difference between currency and flight reviews?

Currency is what is required from each PIC in order to stay up to date on a UAS type. This is shown in the form of a minimum of three takeoffs and landings every 90 days. If you do not stay current and have not done three takeoff and landings within the preceding 90 days you will need recurrent training by one of the instructors. A biannual flight review is different in the sense that for everyone every 24 calendar months (after UAS checkride) must meet with an instructor to review flying skills, regulations, changes to department operations and documents etc. The biannual flight review is not a checkride but is presented in a similar format. The only way to prolong a BFR is to pass a an additional UAS based checkride.

What should be included in my three briefings?

The briefings vary depending on the mission, personal, weather, surrounding environment, etc. The main purpose of a briefing is to make sure the entire flight crew is on the same page and to state the plan of action in order to avoid any confusion or safety issues in the future. Plan the flight, fly the plan.  For more info please reference the ‘Clarification on and additional information regarding required Flight Briefings’ document listed on the Training Documents page.

Do I have personal insurance under the COA?

As CU-trained personnel flying under CU-owned COAs, you have insurance provided to you from the university, so long as all federal, state, local, and CU-Boulder policies/procedures/regulations are complied with.

Can I fly closer than 8NM and within 100ft of MTRs?

When discussing specifics about MTRs and what is required to fly within the vicinity of them it clearly states in the FOM and COA that: “No person may operate a UAS within 8 nautical miles of the centerline, or closer than 100’ above or below the vertical limits of a published VR or IR military training route without coordinating with the DO for approval." This coordination is done though reaching out to the DO who has military experience with finding and deciphering codes required to find active times of these MTRs. This question is stated in this document for the reason that just because you are within these prespecified limits doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to fly there but more correctly means you must coordinate and deconflict.

What should I bring to a checkride?

This question varies with personal opinion and preference. It is required that you bring everything that you would need to safely conduct a mission. These may include a laptop in order to look up your NOTAM; the COA, FOM, and UAS checklists; any supplemental material like the COA Flight Checklist, airspace guide, etc; water; glasses/corrective lenses; proper attire for the weather conditions that day. Lastly, it is required for examiners to see a form of compliance with the medical regulations so please bring some sort of ID, FAA medical certificate, or preapproved health letter. Remember the checkride is completely open-book, so feel to bring whatever reference material you like. 

What is the difference between a Safety Action Report and logging UAS fixes/maintenance/replacement items in the maintenance logs?

There is a distinct difference between having to log UAS maintenance, part replacements, etc and having to file a Safety Action Report (SAR). The requirements for when to file a safety action report are listed in the FOM. A specific example of the delineation between these two scenarios is as follows: you would need to log replacing a motor in the UAS maintenance log but would only need to file a SAR if the reason for needing to replace a motor was because you hit a moving car on the road. You wouldn’t need to fill out a SAR if the motor needed to be replaced simply because it started to wear down.

How do I know if my operation is considered commercial?

The Lawrence letter is a great start. In general. If you are getting paid or the operation is in some way for compensation or hire, it’s most likely considered a commercial operation. It may not always be the case but if you are in doubt or curious, please read the Lawrence letter interpretation of this question which was published by the FAA and posted here: Lawrence-AUS-1 - (2016) Legal Interpretation (colorado.edu). If it is a commercial operation according to FAA policy, you may not fly under hobbyist rules. You will need to fly either under FAR107 or a COA.

In the academic realm, coursework associated with undergraduate courses may be flown under hobbyist rules per the Lawrence Letter. Graduate coursework requires flying under either FAR107 or a COA. 

What is the difference between Part 107 and COA?

Part 107 and a COA are both ways to access the National Airspace System (NAS) for commercial purposes. COAs are issued strictly to public entities, such as universities and police departments, and tend to be more permissive than Part 107. With Part 107, the certificate is owned by an individual, not an organization. For more specifics, we encourage you to reach out to one of our instructors.

When does checking a METAR actually matter if they are not forecasts?

The METAR is a great tool to prove weather minimum legality and compliance, as METARs are recorded and archived. In turn, it should be checked immediately before the flight to find an objective description of current weather conditions. Because we do not require students to learn how to decipher aviation weather forecasts, checking the weather as a part of preflight planning is generally inapplicable, except to determine areas of generally good and poor weather. A more practical solution for finding forecases is to check the general weather forecast for the specific flight area about a day in advance using common weather forecast applications. Verify the weather requirements are met on the day of the flight by checking the relevant METAR.

Do you lose VLOS on a checkride during the loss of orientation exercise on a multirotor?

No. The definition of VLOS is stated in the FOM and FAR107 is: “... be able to determine the unmanned aircrafts attitude, altitude, and direction of flight”.  In the loss of orientation exercise the student is doing just that: determining the aircraft's orientation and direction of flight. Although you are near the edge of VLOS, the instructor will still know the orientation as he/she maneuvered the UAS to that location. This exercise is used to test the practical ability to recover a loss of orientation which could occure on a real mission from PIC distractions, change of controls, etc.

During a fly away event who specifically would I call and where would I get that information?

As per the statement in the COA in an event of an emergency/fly away occurrence the PIC will immediately contact the ATC facility having jurisdiction for the airspace.  If the UAS if flying towards a towered airport, the ATC facility which controls that airspace would be directly related to personnel in the tower. So, a phone number for the tower should be obtained. This can be done with a phone book, Google search, or third-party application. One website which may be helpful for obtaining phone numbers is: AC-U-KWIK | Global Airport Data | FBO and Handler Data | Flight Planning . For uncontrolled airports it is recommend to contact the airport manager in the event of a flyaway emergency. This information can easily be found on AirNav: AirNav: Airport Information . Although the airport is uncontrolled and technically is not under any direct ATC jurisdiction, this is still what we recommend. If it is necessary to call it is crucial to be professional, clear, and concise. Remember, the required information that you must relay to ATC is the UAS direction of flight, last known altitude, and maximum remaining flight time. We also recommend telling ATC your initial location, UAS size, and estimated flight path. Determining possible flight risks and planning for fly away emergencies should be a crucial step in the preflight planning process. You are responsible for knowing the nearby airports in each direction and should have the corresponding phone numbers on hand before taking off or have a very quick way to access them.

Who is the PIC on the checkride?

The applicant is the PIC for the checkride. The examiner is part of the crew and, although it may seem like the examiner is “running the show” by requesting different UAS actions, the PIC (applicant) is responsible to make sure the flight is legal and safe. If at any point the applicant does not feel like a requested maneuver is legal or safe he or she should state that and do what is necessary to remain safe and legal.

Who is the PIC during a recurrent training event?

If your currency lapses and you need to schedule a recurrency training event you will be the PIC when flying, even though you are under the supervision of a CFI. The applicant has the responsibility to fill out both logbooks for this flight.  

When there is a class G magenta shade does class G go to 700 or 699ft?

Unless otherwise depicted in general inside a magenta shade class G goes up to 699ft outside of a magenta shade class G would extend up to but not including 1200ft so class G would end at 1199ft.

Do VOs need recurrent training?

Per the FOM VOs do not need recurrent training. 

Difference between AGL vs MSL in airspace examples?

Its important to note that there is a difference between AGL and MSL. In training, during airspace examples, it is common to say class G airspaces extends from surface to 699ft then its class E from 700ft to some arbitrary altitude where a higher class of airspace would dominate. Although this is ok for examples, students must know the difference between AGL and MSL. All the numbered airspace depictions shown in class D, C, and B airspace are reported in MSL. To convert MSL to AGL you can use field elevation numbers from nearby airport information boxes, points depicting heights of land features, or even tower altitudes in parenthesis. So when looking at an example at this location (Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, West Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton, CO)  The following airspace rationale exists: The pin is just on the outside of the class bravo but it is so close that I would treat it as you are under the shelf. So assuming that, you would have class G from the surface to 699ft AGL from 700ft AGL to 9000MSL you would have class E and then class B from 9000 to 12000ft MSL. Assuming the “height” of the ground at the location is a conservative 5600ft MSL (taken from a nearby tower to the north with a reported height of 5813MSL minus its stated height of 368ft AGL), at 699ft AGL you are at 6299ft MSL all in class G then 6300ft MSL to 9000ft MSL (2,700ft vertically) class E, then class B.  

What is the difference between statute mile (SM) and nautical mile (NM)?

One statue mile is 5280ft and a nautical mile is 6076ft. The conversion is as shown: 1SM=.86897NM or 1NM=1.1508SM. NMs are used for charting and navigating. You can think of the difference being a SM is a “road mile” and a NM being a naval or aviator mile. SM were determined from historic arbitrary measurements whereas NM were determined from the circumference of the earth and its latitude (one NM is one minute of latitude).

What is a knot?

Knot is one nautical mile per hour. Knot is abbreviated kt and 1kt=1.15mph.

What is a calendar month?

A calendar month is a way to quantify time to the end of a prespecified month. In the example of a BFR every 24 calendar months would signify the last day of that month. So if you got certified on August 3 of 2024 you would not need a BFR until August 31st of 2026.