Gizmodo: "The FAA's Drone Ban at the Super Bowl is Absurd"

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]

Views: 2204

Comment by Pedals2Paddles on February 1, 2015 at 11:10am

Oh relax. Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) have always prohibited model aircraft and UAVs.  This is absolutely nothing new.  And it is absolutely nothing the FAA just did to target UAVs.  These rules were in place before multirotors even existed.  It's been standard practice for at least over a decade.  You're just now finding out about it.

Comment by technicus acityone on February 1, 2015 at 11:29am

f them =)

Comment by Gary McCray on February 1, 2015 at 11:31am

Hi Pedals,

Yes TFRs like this have existed for-ever pretty much.

The problem is that now that quadcopters in particular have extended small RC aerial vehicle use well beyond the traditional RC hobbyist boundaries. 

And with really the only exception ever being the Washington no fly zone, RC airplanes, events, use in general were completely ignored (Until Now).

The FAA is now making a major point of "going after them" and this completely conflicts with normal use and common sense.

And this new overreaching and utterly restrictive attitude and approach is going to cause massive problems in the US.

Nothing the  FAA has done reflects that they have the vaguest concept of the actual issues or how to handle them "reasonably" or in a fair and balanced manner.

So far rousing the media and using a big stick has been their approach, as far as I can see they are doing a better job of ensuring that every other country is able to advance and use UAS technology more quickly than ours.

Sure there are dangers, but there are dangers in everything, you just need to weigh the good against the bad, not act like "Big Brother" and make everything about terrorists.

Orwell wrote about the FAA.

Comment by Pedals2Paddles on February 1, 2015 at 11:36am

The technology out pacing the regulation has been the problem for years.  Probably always will be.

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on February 1, 2015 at 11:56am

IMHO The problem isn't technology , it isn't the FAA, it isn't Government policy, it isn't Media, it isn't public opinion, it isn't even the irresponsible actions of a small number of individuals. The problem is fear. The terrorist acts that culminated on September 11, 2011 have forever altered the landscape here in the United States.

Never mind the fact that there are far easier, more effective, and less noticeable ways a terrorist might attack a venue like a sports arena; vis-a-vis "Black Sunday" or "The Sum of All Fears". It is the terrorist act people fear, not the way the act is perpetrated.

Because of the method used on 9/11, people have a fear of anything that flies being used in a terrorist act. If terrorists used model rockets, we would probably see a lot of attention being paid to these "Missiles" in the media, and therefore any model rocket enthusiast would be given extra scrutiny by the public at local parks and recreational areas instead of sUAS.

Terrorists ultimate goal isn't to take lives, it's to generate fear in our everyday lives and prevent us from living our lives with the FREEDOM we hold most dear.

Just my 2¢


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

Comment by Pedals2Paddles on February 1, 2015 at 12:14pm

Privacy drives the fear of drones.  Terrorism is hardly a thought in most people's minds, or the topic of what the media babbles about.

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on February 1, 2015 at 12:34pm


Privacy is certainly another issue that drives public opinion with respect to the use of "Drones". However I don't think anyone attending a Nationally televised sporting event like the Super Bowl is thinking about their privacy. Nor is the FAA's decision based on public concern over privacy, it's safety oriented.

While I agree that the driving force behind most stories involving UAVs has little or nothing directly to do with terrorism. My point was that if not for the acts that took place on 9/11 I don't personally think that so much attention would have been placed on our small craft by the Media, which helped form public opinion, also I believe that without that media attention there would have been far less attention to the supposed privacy issue.


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

Comment by Martin on February 1, 2015 at 2:06pm

The FAA are the terrorist here. They are the ones promoting fear. It's only a football game. If it's about videoing. Then a bunch of people with charged cell phones can put online realtime video better than a phantom with a 10 minute flight time. If anybody wanted to do real harm, just spike the beer kegs with a crap load of lsd. Next it will be hockey and oh no......maybe curling to get no fly zones. 

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on February 1, 2015 at 3:47pm


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

Comment by Toby Lankford on February 1, 2015 at 6:09pm
"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.


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