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Utility Navigation

Aircraft Operations

Uncrewed Aircraft Systems

Small UAS in flight

A team of researchers launches a small uncrewed aircraft system.

Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS)

NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) UAS Section provides policy input, oversight, and guidance for all of NOAA’s UAS operations. The UAS Section of AOC is staffed by a team of aviation professionals who specialize in operational UAS implementation.

The UAS Section tracks all small UAS (sUAS) operations for NOAA to include aircraft hours, types, pilot qualifications, and pilot training. The UAS Section also coordinates airspace approvals for operations within the U.S. National Airspace System, special use airspace, and foreign airspace. AOC conducts a thorough review of all projects by applying established risk management procedures to sUAS missions, including an airworthiness review of all aircraft. This support is provided to NOAA Line Offices and partners to further develop and refine the use of sUAS for NOAA’s research and data collection.

UAS Flight Approval

The NOAA Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Handbook provides guidance to NOAA users of UAS and a framework for the safe and efficient operation of UAS operated or sponsored by NOAA. The handbook supplements NAO 216-104A: Management and Utilization of Aircraft and the AOC Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Operations Policy.

NOAA researchers or field offices wanting to utilize a sUAS should contact AOC at

Learn more about NOAA UAS privacy at:


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Reviewed: September 4, 2020. Contact us with page issues.

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