NFL Films, the media-production arm of the National Football League, has just been awarded the right to fly drones in NFL stadiums.
The NFL is the first major American sport league to receive such permission.
So, you can expect a bunch of cool aerial shots in all upcoming NFL Films productions, right?
Well, yeah – but there's a catch.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which doles out the exemptions for commercial drones, has placed a bunch of restrictions on the NFL's drone permission. Drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, only fly up to 400 feet, and travel no faster than 100 miles per hour.
There's also this:
All Flight operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all nonparticipating
persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures unless:
a. Barriers or structures are present that sufficiently protect nonparticipating persons
from the UA and/or debris in the event of an accident. The operator must ensure
that nonparticipating persons remain under such protection. If a situation arises
where nonparticipating persons leave such protection and are within 500 feet of
the UA, flight operations must cease immediately in a manner ensuring the safety
of nonparticipating persons; and
b. The owner/controller of any vessels, vehicles or structures has granted permission
for operating closer to those objects and the PIC has made a safety assessment of
the risk of operating closer to those objects and determined that it does not
present an undue hazard.
Basically, this means that the NFL's drone flights cannot take place during actual games, with full stadiums. For now, NFL Films can only fly drones in empty stadiums.
Just for now, hopefully. Anyone who's ever watched NFL Films can imagine how it would greatly benefit the program to have drones at its disposal.
Even with this drone exemption, the Super Bowl will likely stay a drone-free zone. Let's just hope the FAA's PSA can top last year's odd display.