For anyone that had maybe been considering taking a drone up to catch some beautiful footage of Super Bowl 50 from the air, think again. The Federal Aviation Administration has released new flight advisory information detailing the off-limits areas during the game — and part of that means no drones, too.
But though this gets trotted out every year that drones remain popular, it’s worth noting that drones (or more specifically, unmanned aircraft) have been unauthorized to fly in the airspace above such events since at least 2014. That ban comes courtesy of a blanket Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) dealing with sporting events.
Specifically, NOTAM FDC 4/3621. It’s a pretty lengthy catch-all designed to cover all the bases, as it were, when it comes to dealing with flights in the airspace around stadiums. This restriction's set at a three-mile radius and 3,000 feet above the ground. For the purposes of drones, here’s the relevant bit with added emphasis:
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.
The notice also covers NASCAR events and the like, but football’s what we’re concerned with here. That 30,000 or more might seem like an arbitrary number, but it covers a lot of ground. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. — where Super Bowl 50 is set to occur on Feb. 7 — has an estimated seating capacity of 68,500. So, therefore, it would obviously be covered under the blanket NOTAM.
Barring a revision and issuing of a new blanket NOTAM, unmanned aircraft will continue to be banned from future Super Bowls barring the unlikely event that one occurs at a stadium capable of seating fewer than 30,000 people. Even then, the FAA would likely just issue several temporary restrictions based around the stadium given that they already do so in addition to the 2014 NOTAM.
Photo: Jeramey Jannene | Flickr