Super Bowl Drone Ban Spans 34.5 Miles

The Federal Aviation Administration is banning drones from flying within a 34.5-mile radius of NRG Stadium during Super Bowl LI.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), like it’s done the past few years, has banned drones from Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas. Not only has NRG Stadium been declared a “No Drone Zone,” temporary flight restrictions will prohibit drones from flying within a 34.5-mile radius of the stadium.

The Super Bowl drone restrictions will be in effect from 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5 as the New England Patriots crush the Atlanta Falcon en route to their fifth Super Bowl title.

The FAA produced the 20-second video atop this page that tells people to bring their lucky jerseys, face paint and team spirit to the game – but to leave their drones at home.

The drone ban is for safety reasons, of course. There doesn’t appear to be any known threats, and the FAA isn’t revealing what measures it will take to neutralize rogue drones, but perhaps it has the same technology the Las Vegas police had during the final presidential debate. The FAA last year said it would use “deadly force” to take out rogue drones, but there’s no language of that sort in this year’s announcement.

“Drones are becoming much more popular, but they also pose certain safety risks,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We’re working closely with our safety and security partners to spread the No Drone Zone message as widely as possible.”

The Super Bowl drone ban shouldn’t be a surprise as drones have been banned from flying above sporting events since at least 2014. Here’s some details on those restrictions, courtesy NOTAM FDC 4/3621:

All aircraft operations; including parachute jumping, unmanned aircraft and remote controlled aircraft, are prohibited within a 3 NMR up to and including 3000 FT AGL of any stadium having a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people where either a regular or post season Major League Baseball, National Football League, or NCAA division one football game is occurring. This NOTAM also applies to NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series races excluding qualifying and pre-race events.

During the 2016 Rio Olympics, DJI at the request of the Brazilian military restricted its drones from flying near Olympic venues in Rio, São Paulo and other locations where the games are taking place. DJI took similar precautions during other big events around the world, including both the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention in the United States in 2016, the G7 Summit in Japan and the Euro 2016 football tournament in France.

In September 2015, a teacher was arrested for crashing a drone into an empty section at the US Open. Drones are banned within five miles of an airport, and Louis Armstrong Stadium sits 4.2 miles from LaGuardia Airport.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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