As has been the case the last several years, the FAA has announced that flights by drones will again be prohibited in a wide area around NRG Stadium in Houston, the site of Super Bowl LI on February 5. The “no drone zone” extends for 34.5 miles around the stadium. The “no drone zone” goes live at 4:00 pm and ends at 11:59 pm CT. The FAA also has produced a YouTube video on the restrictions.
The announcement of the Super Bowl restrictions highlights that the FAA still has not moved forward in resolving important questions about the operation of drones over people. While the FAA convened a panel of industry experts who studied the topic and issued recommendations in short order in April 2016, the FAA’s commencement of a proceeding to adopt rules has been tabled indefinitely while the FAA coordinates what it describes as “security concerns” with other federal departments and agencies. The UAV industry continues to lobby for liberalization of the FAA’s current ban of flights over people, absent waivers.