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]

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  • At first glance, it doesn't seem too unreasonable. It is a temporary restriction. If someone was planning on committing terrorism, 30 miles is fairly reasonable for a fixed wing aircraft. 

    However, this restriction would only "work" if this 30 mile circle is actually patrolled with the capability to shoot down anything if need be (and I doubt this is the case). There already are laws against terrorism. A would-be terrorist isn't going to find a legal way to commit terrorism.

    It just seems to be a typical government bureaucrat "because we can" approach without common sense. 

  • Moderator

    The 30 mile radius is nothing new. The super bowl last year had similar flight restrictions.


    Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

  • Would the FAA really have come up with this nonsense on their own?

    Alex Moore - Money? Sounds reasonable! Unauthorized filming? Maybe not such a deal breaker considering the number of spectators able to film from a better vantage point.

    Could be to do with concerns relating to promotion, advertising and sponsorship.

    Maybe the FAA is simply doing what it deems necessary to prevent a deliberate harmful use of the technology as a flying bomb or similar... but that obviously ignores the fact that someone bent on conducting such a flight is unlikely to be influenced by a no fly zone.

  • Admin

    Anyone remember the movie "Black Sunday"? It was the Good Year blimp, but it could have well as been a sUAS.



  • and the air force thunderbirds can buzz the stadium when they sing in the land of the free and the home of the brave yea thats ok

  • A UAV launched in Scottsdale would run out of power about 1/3 of the distance to the stadium in Glendale.  This rule is nutty.

  • Probably money talking...NFL not wanting any unauthorized filming. BS!

  • Once again the FAA flex's it's Draconian muscles, letting those crumby little American Citizens know just what it thinks of them.

    Up the FAA!

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