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Drone Ban Ordered For US Super Bowl

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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FAA creates 32 mile exclusion zone for drones around the stadium hosting the American Super Bowl

Drones have been banned from flying within 32 miles of American Football’s Super Bowl, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said.

“Leave your drone at home and be a responsible pilot” the FAA said in a Youtube video it made on the subject.

“Temporary Flight Restrictions will prohibit certain aircraft operations, including unmanned aircraft operations, within a 32-mile radius of the stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on game day,” said the FAA. “The restrictions will be in effect from 2pm to 11:59pm on Sunday, 7 February.”

Excluded

The FAA imposed the restrictions around the Super Bowl stadium in Santa Clara, California. The restriction blanket covers 32 miles surrounding the stadium itself.

“With so many drones being sold for recreational use, we want to do everything we can to get the word out that the game is a No Drone Zone,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We’re working closely with our safety and security partners to spread this message as widely as possible.”

FAA regulations reportedly include the possible use of “deadly force” if a drone is perceived as a security threat.

eagle dronesEarlier this week, Dutch police revealed unorthodox new law enforcement force to tackle rogue drones. The Dutch are training eagles to take out airborne vehicles that could pose a threat to public safety.

Meanwhile the Japanese police have created a dedicated drone squad. That drone squad is equipped with a specialised drone that uses a net to disable the target drone.

The US government meanwhile is known to be working on technologies for protecting the public and sensitive areas from rogue drones, although little is known about its takedown methods.

Growing Menace

The FAA decision to ban drones at the Super Bowl is a sensible precaution however, as drones have been increasingly problematic at large public gatherings.

Last year for example, a drone crash-landed into stands during a match the US Open tennis tournament.

iglesias injury droneA drone also injured Enrique Iglesias in front of a crowd of 12,000 fans at a concert in Tijuana, Mexico.

It should be noted that in the United States, there are permanent restrictions on the use of drones around sensitive locations, such as the White House and airports. Indeed, last August, two flights from New York’s JFK airport narrowly avoided colliding with drones, with the vehicles coming dangerously close to commercial planes.

And drones are not just creating a problem in the United States.

On this side of the pond, a British drone enthusiast was banned from his hobby in the UK’s first conviction for flying an unmanned vehicle unlawfully.

Nigel Wilson from Nottingham was originally arrested back in March 2015 after he was caught flying a drone over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. But he also flew his drone over the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace.

Research by the University of Birmingham has warned about the privacy, safety and indeed security risks of drones over the next 20 years, especially as the aircraft could be possibly used by terror groups to attack large public events.

Currently, drones can only be used in the UK within sight of the operator and with permission of the Civil Aviation Authority.

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