FAA Criminalizes UAS Ops At Stadiums


The FAA is warning drone operators that overflying sports venues could lead to jail time. In a posting Monday on its TFR website, the FAA states ” … unmanned aircraft and remote controlled aircraft” are prohibited within three nautical miles and 3,000 feet AGL over “any stadium having a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people.” Flying piloted aircraft and parachuting have been under the same restrictions for sports events, and Monday’s NOTAM now includes unmanned aircraft. Violations could result in fines or up to one year in prison, The Associated Press reported. The no-fly restrictions include Major League Baseball, National Football League and NASCAR venues, one hour before and after the events. Waivers can be obtained by operators of the events and broadcast outlets. The FAA’s notice is an update to anti-terrorist measures issued in 2001 and 2009, which do not specify drones or unmanned aircraft, the AP reported.

Among the ban’s critics is Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney who was quoted by the AP as saying the NOTAM is “another attempt by the FAA to impose legal restriction on drones or model aircraft that never existed before.” Former FAA general counsel Kenneth Quinn said teams want to use drones to record games for training purposes but don’t want outside parties to diminish the value of network TV footage by recording with drones of their own, the AP reported. Law enforcement has already been involved in incidents of unauthorized drones flying over stadiums. A man was detained by police in August after flying a drone during a Carolina Panthers football game in Charlotte, North Carolina, the AP reported.