3D Robotics

The FAA's Drone Ban at the Super Bowl Is Absurd

From Gizmodo:

You may have heard about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) quietly declaring that this year's Super Bowl will be a "no drone zone." You may not have heard just how big that no drone zone will be. It's 60 miles wide. The no drone zone is larger than the city of Phoenix. Seems a little bit absurd, huh?

That's because it's totally absurd.

The FAA is establishing what's called a temporary flight restriction that consists of several circles around the University of Phoenix stadium, where Sunday's big game is going down. The firsthas a 10-mile radius "in which general aviation aircraft, media, banner towers, blimps and unmanned aircraft will be prohibited." The second ring's radius extends 30 miles from the stadium and prohibits all aircraft that don't have a set flight plan, transponders on board, or two-way communication with air traffic control. Drones of any shape or size won't be allowed in either ring.

Just in case you were wondering what that 30-mile radius would look like in Phoenix:

By the way, there are already some no-fly zones in the Phoenix area, including two airports and an Air Force base. Those zones are teeny tiny compared to the Super Bowl's no drone zone, though:

The FAA's Drone Ban at the Super Bowl Is Absurd

And for context, this is what a 30-mile radius would look like in Washington DC, where DJI recently grounded its drones after a drunk government employee flew his Phantom onto the White House lawn. The zone would reach almost all the way to Baltimore:

The FAA's Drone Ban at the Super Bowl Is Absurd

Obviously, there are a lot of major safety concerns surrounding the Super Bowl. The FAA is not wrong for banning flying robots at such a high profile event, one that will be attended by tens of thousands and watched live by millions more. But imposing such a strict ban sends a message that the FAA is content to blow drone-related rules entirely out of proportion. This is disconcerting as the agency finalizes regulations on commercial drones, regulations that are reportedly pretty harsh and would require drone operators to get pilot licenses.

Nobody wants anything to go wrong at the Super Bowl. But if you really think about it, the FAA is setting a precedent that it will shut down the skies to even the smallest aircraft whenever it wants. Some Average Joe in Scottsdale—which is miles and miles away from the stadium—who decides to take his Parrot Bebop for a spin during Super Bowl stands to get in deep trouble for violating the FAA's absurdly large flight restriction.

The Super Bowl is a great American tradition. But this excessive ban doesn't sound very American at all. [FAA]

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • I see no problem with the no fly zone. Keeps all the little kids that post you tube videos of their hobby uav's flying at 8 thousand feet checked. If people would of had more sense here in the U.S. and were responsible about their hobby usage of these type of aircraft there might not be the problem we have with the FAA right now.
  • Moderator

    Many of the members here follow the twitter feed for TRF info here:


    The FAA (@FAANews) | Twitter
    The latest Tweets from The FAA (@FAANews). Welcome to the official twitter account of the Federal Aviation Administration. Following, mention or RT d…
  • The law was written before these devices existed. Unfortunately the minority of morons in the hobby commit high profile incidents.  And that's what gets the grease.

  • Guys, I think this is the first time you have been introduced to the FAA and to TFR's ( Temporary Flight Restrictions). These have ALWAYS existed at high profile events for at least the last 15 years. This maybe something new to you guys, but it's old news to all of us. 

  • @Lockhart Never underestimate the stupidity of bureaucrats and politicians. They don't seem to realize that laws only work on those who follow them. It's the same problem with gun control legislation.
  • I don't like this mostly because rules like this tend to spread and become permanent because they sound reasonable at first and only affect a small minority of people. Before you know it every major city will have a no fly zone like this and the only place left to fly will be in the middle of nowhere (not in national parks though because that's illegal too).

    This reminds me of those pedophile exclusion zones many towns have. It sounds perfectly reasonable to not allow convicted sex offenders to live near schools but as those exclusion zones spread the places those people could live continued to shrink until there was no other choice but for them to go underground which is the worst case scenario.

  • The way certain drone pilots behave im not surprised they banned them. And to be honest its the right choice to make personally.

  • "I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."

    There are plenty of reasons to be upset with the FAA's handling of sUAS regulations (or lack of).  This is not one of them.

  • "This month, an analyst for the National Counterterrorism Center told a gathering of military, law enforcement and public utility officials in Arlington, Va., that extremist interest in “unmanned aircraft systems” had spiked recently. In the past 16 months, he said, the working group for unmanned aircraft systems threats had grown to 65 members from four, according to a participant at the gathering."

    This is a quote from sUAS and probably what infuriates me most in this whole debacle. Radio Control Planes have been readily accessible for at least 30 years. I mean that they have been under $1000 for a fairly large plane and electronics. The US has been using weaponized drones on terrorists for over 20 years. We have heard of terrorists using the internet and media to communicate for at least 15 years. Iran is supposed to have been hacking and conducting cyber warfare for 20 years. We are supposed to believe that all of the sudden there is an interest in the last 16 months for small unmanned systems. A person could carry a larger payload on a kite.

    This is about control. The government could say that extremists have taken and interest in "Taco Bell Tacos" and you would have people here saying things like, well the Superbowl would be a great target for distributing tacos. But do we have to ban on tacos the whole city of Phoenix? How about we be sensible and educate people. It does not matter what laws the FAA gets passed for them or how harsh the regulations are. It is about making sure you and I don't fly drones and make money the large companies are already making. If an extremeist wanted to use one of these systems, they could have done so years ago. This is about the FAA's bruised ego in losing the trappy case the first time around. Wake up! How many times have you crashed your own systems. Did you harm anyone? How many stories have you heard in the several decades that RC has been around that someone has been injured? The Airlines have 4500 close calls every year in manned airplanes. Google "drone accident" and you can count how many distinct incidents in short order. They are all from this year and maybe late last year. Drone are not the problem. Government control is.
  • Moderator


    I think your confusing your alphabet soup. The FAA could care less about video taping the game (unless it's for commercial purposes of course :)), the FCC on the other hand.....

    Your right, it's only a football game, and it's only a temporary flight restriction. And as has been pointed out before, it's nothing new. TFR have been in place around the Super Bowl for a number of years. The only thing that has changed is the specific inclusion of "drones" in the notice. If they didn't get specific, some idiot would try to claim ignorance, which by the way isn't a legal argument.

    NOTAM's and TFR's that effect model aircraft are nothing new. The AMA has posted NOTAM's and TFR that effect it's members on their site for years. They also provide notice to clubs about NOTAM's and TFR's that effect them.

    For example whenever the President of the United States flies to a destination in the USA, a TFR/NOTAM is in place for the duration of his visit. At our local field in upstate NY, we've had to comply on more than one occasion. I believe your own Transport Canada has a similar system.


    Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

This reply was deleted.