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FAA Criminalizes UAS Ops At Stadiums

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Old November 1st 14, 01:28 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default FAA Criminalizes UAS Ops At Stadiums

FAA Criminalizes UAS Ops At Stadiums

The FAA is warning drone operators
http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_4_3621.html that overflying sports
venues could lead to jail time. In a posting Monday on its TFR website, the FAA
states " ... unmanned aircraft and remote controlled aircraft" are prohibited
within three nautical miles and 3,000 feet AGL over "any stadium having a
seating capacity of 30,000 or more people." Flying piloted aircraft and
parachuting have been under the same restrictions for sports events, and
Monday's NOTAM now includes unmanned aircraft. Violations could result in fines
or up to one year in prison, The Associated Press reported. The no-fly
restrictions include Major League Baseball, National Football League and NASCAR
venues, one hour before and after the events. Waivers can be obtained by
operators of the events and broadcast outlets. The FAA's notice is an update to
anti-terrorist measures issued in 2001 and 2009, which do not specify drones or
unmanned aircraft, the AP reported.

Among the ban's critics is Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney who was quoted
by the AP as saying the NOTAM is "another attempt by the FAA to impose legal
restriction on drones or model aircraft that never existed before." Former FAA
general counsel Kenneth Quinn said teams want to use drones to record games for
training purposes but don't want outside parties to diminish the value of
network TV footage by recording with drones of their own, the AP reported. Law
enforcement has already been involved in incidents of unauthorized drones
flying over stadiums. A man was detained by police in August after flying a
drone during a Carolina Panthers football game in Charlotte, North Carolina,
the AP reported.

FAA purports to criminalize unmanned aircraft and model aircraft operations
near stadiums during certain sporting events.
by Press • 29 October 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration issued Notice to
Airmen (“NOTAM”) No. FDC 4/3621, replacing NOTAM No. FDC 9/5151 from 2009
concerning the operation of aircraft and parachutes in the vicinity of stadiums
during certain sporting events. The FAA’s new NOTAM adds the words “unmanned
aircraft and remote controlled aircraft” to the scope of operating restrictions
within three nautical miles of stadiums and racetracks on the day of certain
sporting events, posing a potential risk of criminal prosecution to model
aircraft and unmanned aircraft operators.

Background: Origins in the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

The notion of restricting airspace surrounding stadiums during a sporting event
arose in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks which were, of
course, carried out using passenger airliners. On September 20, 2001, the FAA
issued NOTAM FDC 1/0257 restricting aircraft flights within three nautical
miles below 3000 feet over “any major professional or collegiate sporting event
or any other major open air assembly of people.” Various revisions were made to
this “sports/stadium” NOTAM in successive years, such as to remove the vague
“open air assembly” language and to define the specific types of sporting
events to which the NOTAM applied. The apparent regulatory premise for these
NOTAMS was 14 C.F.R. § 91.137 (“Temporary flight restrictions in the vicinity
of disaster/hazard areas”), a regulation that refers throughout to “aircraft.”
In later NOTAMs on the subject, 14 C.F.R. § 99.7 (“Special security
instructions”) was cited as regulatory authority, a regulation that requires
“each person operating an aircraft” to comply with security-related
instructions issued by the FAA “in the interest of national security.”

In February 2003, Congress codified the stadium/sports NOTAM in an
appropriations bill, Pub. L. 108-7 § 352 (2003). Notably, the statute provided
exceptions for broadcast coverage as well as allowing flights for “operational
purposes of an event, stadium, or other venue” including the transportation of
team members and officials involved in the event, among others, but only upon
the issuance of an FAA waiver or exemption. The statute, which refers to
“aircraft” and not to other types of devices, contemplated that modifications
to the restrictions could be made “after public notice and an opportunity for
comment.” Id. § 352(b). Commentators over the years have noted that the
restrictions do little or nothing to prevent terrorist attacks because the
three-mile distance (or 3000 foot altitude) can be traversed within minutes,
while ensnaring pilots who inadvertently pass too close to a stadium during a

October 2014 Superseding NOTAM

In the February 2009 NOTAM, the FAA reiterated the classification of the area
surrounding stadiums during certain events as “national defense airspace” and
provided that: all aircraft and parachute operations are prohibited within a 3
[nautical mile radius] up to and including 3000 [feet above ground level] 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.

FAA NOTAM No. FDC 9/5151 (Feb. 10, 2009)

These restrictions were indicated to be in place one hour before the sporting
event to one hour after the end of the event.

In the new superseding NOTAM issued by the FAA yesterday, the FAA added the
words “unmanned aircraft and remote controlled aircraft” to the operative text,
so as to provide: all aircraft operations; including parachute jumping,
unmanned aircraft and remote controlled aircraft, are prohibited within a 3
[nautical mile radius] up to and including 3000 [feet above ground level] 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.

FAA NOTAM No. FDC 4/3621 (October 27, 2014) (emphasis added). The term “remote
controlled aircraft” is not defined nor familiar from recent FAA policy
documents; if the term was meant to refer to model aircraft, it is unclear why
that language was not used in the NOTAM only a few months after the FAA’s
noteworthy “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft,” 79 Fed.
Reg. 36,172 (June 25, 2014).

Potential Impact

The impact of the textual change is potentially quite substantial. NOTAM No.
FDC 4/3621 places within its scope stadiums with a capacity of 30,000 or more,
even if far fewer than 30,000 people are in attendance. Nearly 350 colleges and
universities are members of the NCAA Division. There are estimated to be
approximately 150 professional and college stadiums in the United States with a
capacity of 30,000 or more.

The FAA’s NOTAM now purports to criminalize the operation of model aircraft
near those locations on the day of baseball and football games (among other
sporting events such as auto racing), even if the operation is conducted by the
institution, team, or facility itself (in the absence of a formal waiver from
the FAA).

The FAA’s issuance of the NOTAM follows a series of publicized incidents
involving remote controlled model aircraft (“drones”) operated near stadiums
and ball parks, and may be perceived as response thereto, notwithstanding the
observation that the national security issues addressed by the original
September 2001 stadium/sports NOTAM was quite different from potential safety
or nuisance issues that could be said to be posed by small model aircraft or
drone operations.

The consequence for a violation of national defense airspace is potentially
quite serious, including a fine, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. See
49 U.S.C. § 46307. Unfortunately, compliance with stadium/sports flight
restrictions is generally known to be challenging because the FAA does not
publish individual notices of the many sporting events to which these
restrictions are said to apply. (Major League Baseball, for example, involves
162 games per year per team.) Model aircraft and civilian drone operators who
believe that the new NOTAM applies to their activities and endeavor to comply
with it may wish to consult professional and university team schedules or
unofficial aviation information resources such as SkyVector.com for an
indication of upcoming sporting events in their operating areas.

In a defense to an enforcement action or criminal proceeding, the FAA and
prosecutors would face legal arguments concerning the categorization of
remote-controlled model aircraft as “aircraft” for regulatory purposes,
particularly because the regulations and statute authorizing the imposition of
the stadium related flight restrictions address “aircraft” operated by “airmen”
and not other devices.

The treatment of model aircraft as “aircraft” for regulatory purposes was
rejected in a March 2014 decision by an NTSB administrative law judge in the
civil penalty proceeding Huerta v. Pirker, CP-217 (March 6, 2014), which
decision is currently pending on appeal before the NTSB Board. (This firm is
counsel of record for Mr. Pirker in that matter.)

A challenge as to whether any new regulations may be imposed by the FAA upon
the operation of model aircraft, particularly in the absence of proper
rulemaking, is also pending in recently-filed litigation in the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, UAS America Fund LLP v. FAA, Case
No. 14-1156 and Academy of Model Aeronautics v. FAA, Case No. 14-1158).

(This firm is counsel of record for petitioners in those two proceedings.)
* * *
If you have any questions or need additional information about this Alert or
any unmanned aircraft systems topic, please contact:

Brendan M. Schulman
Special Counsel

Quote Originally Posted by astral:

"Which I do. I live within 3 miles of a horse race track in the middle of
Phoenix. I guess I can't fly my hubsan X4 or hover test multirotors I am
building 5 feet off the ground in my back yard without first checking to
see if there is a race going on."

Yep... that's going to be the case and it's very similar to the situation I
find myself in here.

The small town in which I live has an airfield just over 2Km from the
town-center. This means that under NZ law, *NOBODY* can fly an RC model
aircraft anywhere in the township (including the parks, reserves or even their
own back yards) because all those areas are within 4Km of that airfield and
here in NZ it is illegal to fly an RC model within 4Km of an airfield without
"wings" -- which can only be issued by the national model flying body and only
apply to their members.

So, in a low-income district where many families struggle to feed themselves
and keep their kids clothed, if little Johnny gets a cheap coaxial RC
helicopter or quad for Christmas, he becomes a criminal as soon as he steps
outside into his own yard and flies it.

Of course the "officials" of the town told me "but nobody would ever be
prosecuted for this" -- yet strangely enough, when *I* did it, CAA sent *TWO*
investigators on a 500Km round-trip to "investigate" this outrageous breach of
aviation safety -- even though I was flying *under* nearby trees.

I'm all for aviation safety in respect to our models but what authorities have
to realise is that if they turn us all into criminals by way of ridiculously
overbearing rules then people will start thinking "what the hell, I might as
well be hung for a sheep as a lamb" and that's when any hope of keeping things
safe fly right out the door.

Likewise -- here in NZ we have a lot of agricultural aviation activity where
full-sized fixed-wing and helicopter craft fly very low whilst spraying or top
dressing. Now you'd think that, in the name of safety, the airspace
administrator would make access to the NOTAMs which advise when and where such
activity might be taking place would be freely available. But no... they're
*only* available to other pilots who pay the fees. FPV fliers have no access to
this information -- even though it could save lives because nobody flying FPV
wants a close-encounter or collision with a full-sized craft that happens to be
flying below 500 feet AGL.

No, it's not about safety -- it's all about money!

Flying drones near stadiums could end in jail time
Oct. 28, 2014 8:58 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Operators who fly drones or model planes near or over large
sports stadiums and auto racetracks are breaking the law and can be fined and
imprisoned for up to a year, the Federal Aviation Administration warned in a
notice posted on the agency's website.

The notice marks the first time the FAA has sought to criminalize the use of
drones and model planes, attorneys representing drone users said.

The notice, posted on Monday, updates a previous notice to pilots warning that
aircraft are prohibited from flying below 3,000 feet and within 3 miles of a
Major League Baseball, National Football League and NCAA Division I college
football game for national security reasons. The NSCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car and
Champ series auto races are also included. The prohibition extends from one
hour before the events until one hour after.

The original version of the notice was issued shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks and has been previously updated. The original and most recent
prior version of the notice, issued in 2009, make no mention of drones or other
remotely controlled aircraft.

The agency decided to update the notice again this week in order to include a
new web address, said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. While drafting the update,
FAA officials decided to "clarify" that drones and model aircraft are included
in the prohibition since both are considered "aircraft," she said.

New York attorney Brendan Schulman, who represents several drone operators,
said the notice is "another attempt by the FAA to impose legal restriction on
drones or model aircraft that never existed before." He said the restrictions
"do little or nothing" to prevent terrorist attacks since the three-mile
perimeter can be traversed by a plane in minutes or seconds.

Kenneth Quinn, a former FAA general council who represents several clients
concerned about the agency's drone-related regulations, said sports team have
expressed concern to the FAA that drones will be used to photograph or record
games, diminishing the value of the teams' contracts with television networks.
He said there is also concern they might crash into spectators.

On the other hand, sports teams also want permission from the FAA to use drones
themselves to make videos of their practices to use in training and to make
videos of other teams, said Quinn.

The Washington Nationals baseball team used a small drone with a camera to
shoot photos and video of spring training until learning the FAA bans all
commercial use of unmanned aircraft. In August, a man was detained by police
for using a small drone a Carolina Panthers football game at Bank of America
Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Police detained a student for flying a small drone
at a University of Texas football game in September.

The prohibition applies to about 150 stadiums in the U.S. that seat 30,000
people or more, Schulman said.

Many small drones weigh only a few pounds and are virtually indistinguishable
from model aircraft, which have grown in sophistication and capability.

Lawsuits challenge FAA drone, model aircraft rules
Aug. 22, 2014 5:08 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Model aircraft hobbyists, research universities and
commercial drone interests filed lawsuits Friday challenging a government
directive that they say imposes tough new limits on the use of model aircraft
and broadens the agency's ban on commercial drone flights.

The three lawsuits asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
to review the validity of the directive, which the Federal Aviation
Administration issued in June. The agency said the directive is an attempt to
clarify what is a model aircraft and the limitations on their operation.

The FAA has been working on regulations that would permit commercial drone
flights in U.S. skies for more than 10 years, but the agency is still at least
months and possibly years away from issuing final rules to permit flights by
small drones. Regulations for flights by larger drones are even farther away.

Part of the agency's challenge is to distinguish between planes flown by
hobbyists and those used for commercial applications, a distinction that's
become harder to draw as the technology for model planes has grown more

A law passed by Congress in 2012 directed the FAA to issue regulations
permitting commercial drone flights by the fall of 2015, but prohibited the
agency from imposing new regulations on model aircraft.

The FAA directive is a backdoor imposition of new regulations on model aircraft
hobbyists and commercial drone operators without going through required federal
procedures for creating new regulations, said Brendan Schulman, a New York
attorney representing the groups that filed the lawsuits. Federal procedures
require an opportunity for public comment on proposed regulations and an
analysis of the potential costs of the regulations vs. the benefits.

"People who have been using these technologies for years in different ways are
concerned that they are suddenly prohibited from doing so without having their
voices heard, and without regard to the detrimental impact on the commercial
drone industry," he said. Schulman pointed out that hobbyists have been flying
model aircraft nearly 100 years, but he knows of no instance in which a model
aircraft has caused the crash of a manned plane or helicopter.

"In situations where there really is no safety issue there appears to be not
just some restrictions, but an outright prohibition on activities that have
been done for a long time very safely," he said.

An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuits.

The lawsuits were filed by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents
more than 170,000 model aircraft hobbyists; the Council on Governmental
Relations, an association of 188 research universities; and several commercial
drone and model aircraft interests. Among them are UAS America, a fund that
invests in the commercial drone industry; SkyPan International Inc., an aerial
photography company; FPV Manuals LLC, a company that sells video systems for
unmanned aircraft operators and an association representing commercial drone
operators. All argued that the FAA policy would impede their activities, from
hobby use to research and innovation.

Illegal drone use a growing issue at sports venues
Oct. 20, 2014 2:30 PM EDT

1 photo
Serbia Albania Euro Soccer
A drone with an Albanian flag banner flies over Partizan stadium during the
Euro 2016 Group I... Read more

LONDON (AP) — Long after drones became a key tool for militaries and spy
agencies, authorities now realize the threat they can pose to sports events.

It's not multimillion-dollar military-grade drones prompting concerns, but
remote controlled contraptions costing just a few hundred dollars that can be
sent soaring over stadiums. And, as the chaos at a soccer game in Belgrade last
week showed, a provocative flag or banner being carried by a low-cost device
can be a catalyst for disorder.

UEFA President Michel Platini warned that the drone at the abandoned
Serbia-Albania European Championship qualifier, where an Albanian nationalist
banner ignited an on-field brawl, highlighted a "serious problem" for sport.

"Just imagine that a drone carrying a bomb instead of a flag comes to a
ground," Platini said on French television. "What can we do?"

Stopping a determined drone operator is tricky for aviation and security
agencies. The small device with four rotors hovered undetected over the
Belgrade stadium before being spotted by players and television cameras
broadcasting the UEFA match between the Balkan rivals globally.

In recent weeks drones have also been appearing, seemingly undetected, over
several English soccer venues: from Wembley to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.
Authorities and clubs only appear to have become aware of their existence after
footage appeared on an aviation enthusiast's YouTube channel, showing a bird's
eye view of pitches.

One clip viewed around 10,000 times was filmed over the London derby between
Arsenal and Tottenham last month. When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck Arsenal's
second-half equalizer, a drone — identified as a $1,300 Phantom 2 Vision Plus
quadcopter — hovered over the 60,000-capacity stadium in time to capture the
ball landing in the net. Arsenal officials could not say if anyone around the
stadium knew of the drone in the night sky, but the club and Britain's Civil
Aviation Authority are looking into the video.

The CAA is also looking into a video captured at Wembley last month of
preparations for the London NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland
Raiders. Wembley Stadium officials said in a statement that they are "working
closely with the police and other agencies in order to learn as much as we can
on the use of drones to deter potential offenses."

The Belgrade episode ensured drones became a key issue in England at the
Football Safety Officers' Association conference late last week.

"It was highlighted as being an emerging issue at sports grounds, with the use
of drones at grounds increasing significantly in the last two years," Caroline
Hale, head of communications at the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, said in an
interview. "We are reminding clubs that it is worth looking at their
contingency plans in light of possible increased use of drones over sports
grounds and look at potential risks arriving from a drone accident."

The increased vigilance appeared to work on Saturday. A suspected drone pilot
was arrested in a supermarket parking lot close to Manchester City's Etihad
Stadium where the Premier League champions were hosting Tottenham.

An unidentified man was held on suspicion of breaching the air navigation order
before being released on police bail. CAA rules prevent small unmanned
surveillance aircraft being flown over or within 150 meters of any congested

Even if the drone pilots have benign motives, the devices could still endanger
crowds on the ground.

"Even small drones can weigh up to seven or eight kilograms and could cause
damage or injury if they fall from height," Great Manchester Police Chief
Inspector Chris Hill said.

The proliferation of drones is presenting wider challenges, with the Department
of Transport in London predicting an "explosion" in their use in the coming
years. It said it receives a new application for their civilian use almost
every day.

"People are becoming resourceful," Paul Cremin, the department's head of U.K.
Aviation Security, told a House of Lords committee last week. "When the
internet first came on the scene, people looked at different ways of using that
technology, and we are now seeing that with RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft

Cremin highlighted the need for "sufficient controls to assure and reassure the
general public."

Early next month, soccer officials will join police and government agencies to
study the Belgrade incident and recent drone videos over stadiums to assess if
more action is required to thwart a growing danger at sports venues. Hale, of
the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, said the meeting will look at whether
sports-specific drone guidance if necessary.

There are legitimate uses for drones in sport, with some football coaches using
them to film overhead shots of practice to analyze technique. On the flip side,
teams could snoop on rivals using them, although such spying would breach
existing rules in the Premier League and NFL. At the World Cup in June, France
coach Didier Deschamps feared a drone flew over his team's training, although
no complaint was made to FIFA.

"We don't want an intrusion into our privacy," Deschamps was quoted as saying
in Brazil. "But it's very hard to fight this these days."


YouTube videos over English stadiums: http://bit.ly/1sQTxGR


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