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FAA is exploring drone use by NFL teams

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At least three NFL teams are using remote-controlled aircraft to film practices. And that practice has drawn the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to Bloomberg News, the FAA is looking into the use of so-called drones by the Cowboys, Giants, and Patriots, because it’s technically illegally to fly unmanned aircraft for a commercial purpose without first getting a waiver from the FAA.

The agency said it has been in touch with the Cowboys, in order to explain to America’s Team “the proper procedure for obtaining the necessary exemption” from the American government. The FAA also intends to contact both the Giants and the Patriots about the procedure for getting the requisite FAA waiver.

None of the three teams obtained a waiver before putting the drones into use. They can be used indoors without restriction or limitation. When used outside, the FAA has full jurisdiction.

Teams can use drones outdoors without FAA permission, if the drones are being operated by contractors who have obtained FAA authorization.

At least one other team — the Titans — is using drones, but the FAA has not yet added them to the list of teams to be contacted. The NFL said it has not yet heard from the FAA about the issue, and that the NFL has not yet discussed drone policies.

Bloomberg notes that there have been no known deaths arising from the operation of small drones, but a remote-controlled aircraft in the shape of a lawnmower killed a fan at a Jets game in 1979.

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72 Responses to “FAA is exploring drone use by NFL teams”
  1. tonymontana45 says: Jun 27, 2015 2:42 AM

    There is no doubt in my mind, one of the three teams is the Patriots.

  2. aknobloch says: Jun 27, 2015 2:46 AM

    Patriots are flying their drones over 31 cities.

  3. daniroro says: Jun 27, 2015 2:56 AM

    SHOCKED!! The Patriots cheating?? omg..waiting for their answer to this one!

  4. ewurm says: Jun 27, 2015 3:11 AM

    Whose practices are the Patriots filming?

  5. SouthTexasRaider says: Jun 27, 2015 3:14 AM

    Americas team…..LMAO!!!!
    Y’all need to stop with that already

  6. redfield11 says: Jun 27, 2015 3:30 AM

    Did you just nonchalantly throw in “America’s Team” to fuel the comment section?

    Mission accomplished…

  7. thebifforacle says: Jun 27, 2015 3:49 AM

    I presume the Pats drone isn’t actually filming Pats practice.

    Where is it?

  8. sheridanbman says: Jun 27, 2015 5:14 AM

    Will the Patriots be fined and the others receive a warning?

  9. quizlingclinic says: Jun 27, 2015 6:05 AM

    I know where this is going: Giants and Dallas will be ignored and the Pats will be penalized

  10. dp214tx says: Jun 27, 2015 6:12 AM

    I still can’t believe they didn’t run the ball….

  11. themikegun says: Jun 27, 2015 6:52 AM

    I guess taking advantage of new technology is fine, unless it’s the Patriots doing it then, it’s called cheating.

  12. cubancigar10 says: Jun 27, 2015 6:54 AM

    What about drone use over opponents practices? You know who we are talking about Billy Boy!

  13. yooperman says: Jun 27, 2015 6:58 AM

    I wonder where these comments are heading?

  14. 4512dawg4512 says: Jun 27, 2015 7:13 AM

    That’s just dumb, FAA is gonna screw it up for everybody

  15. overatedselfpromoter says: Jun 27, 2015 7:14 AM

    The Green Bay Packers have been filming other teams practices since WWII.

  16. shamrock9913 says: Jun 27, 2015 7:17 AM

    The Patriots. Of course. I’m sure they are not observing their own practices with their new toy.

  17. drakost says: Jun 27, 2015 7:21 AM

    Fricken patriots cheating again. (Being sarcastic.)

  18. addict2sport says: Jun 27, 2015 7:24 AM

    Of course, Pats are probably filming other teams’ practices. Dronegate here we come.

  19. rickeyp says: Jun 27, 2015 7:26 AM

    Question is: have the Patriots had any of their employees or “contractors,” flying drones over other team’s practices, and if so, can we call it SpyDroneGate?

  20. pleasestopthesnow says: Jun 27, 2015 8:01 AM

    I’m so shocked the NFL didnt contact the FAA in advance. Why would they think laws apply to them? Another example of the incompetent idiots running the NFL

  21. keepounding1234 says: Jun 27, 2015 8:05 AM

    This is a non story. They teams aren’t being accused of cheating or bending the rules. They didn’t realize they needed a permit from the federal government to fly a toy helicopter with a camera on it around the stadiums. They will now obtain a permit.

  22. nflnfl13 says: Jun 27, 2015 8:05 AM

    Hmmm, time to create a drone Patriot Missile Defense System.

  23. battmanri says: Jun 27, 2015 8:20 AM

    Most of the comments you’ll see on this story will be coming from drones today….the human kind

  24. kwjsb says: Jun 27, 2015 8:22 AM

    When did our hobby of the ’70’s
    RMC aircraft get a new name and become so controversial?

  25. butwhatabouttheintegrityofthegame says: Jun 27, 2015 8:35 AM

    Roger goodell will make an announcement later today due to the public out cry this has caused. Scores will not longer be kept. Participation ribbons will be passed out to each team after every game. The colts will receive extra to make them feel better about themselves

  26. 12brichandfamous says: Jun 27, 2015 8:41 AM

    Personally, I do not want anyone flying a drone over me. Who knows if they are maintaining the aircraft or have isufficient piloting skills to ensure safe flight over people.

  27. cowboyinpawleys says: Jun 27, 2015 8:42 AM

    There is an article on the Cowboys web site about using the drones to film practice. They got the idea from SMU. I guess no one ever thought they would need a permit to fly a drone over their own property.

  28. bencoates57 says: Jun 27, 2015 8:52 AM

    The funniest part of this whole story is that the Jets, the goobers of the NFL world, pioneered the technology — that it looked like a lawnmower — and that it killed one of their own fans.

  29. mototax says: Jun 27, 2015 8:54 AM

    IF (big if) the Pats were going to spy from the air Kraft would buy an AWAC, not a drone! They do everything first class!

  30. sbaltimore says: Jun 27, 2015 9:01 AM

    Wait…it’s okay to fly drones indoors, but you need special permission to fly them outdoors? They must be some really teeny tiny drones.

    (STOP RUNNING IN THE HOUSE WITH THAT DRONE. YOU’LL PUT SOMEBODY’S EYE OUT WITH THAT THING!!!)

    ;o)

  31. patriots123456 says: Jun 27, 2015 9:03 AM

    The FAA is wrong. Can’t be used for “commercial purposes”? Commercial means used to make money.

    The drones are used for training purposes.

    Just like you can’t monitor employee conversations unless they are for “training purposes”.

    Apparently only our government can use them for whatever the heck they desire.

  32. llcamino says: Jun 27, 2015 9:09 AM

    How exactly is filming your own practice considered “commercial use”?

  33. kevo95 says: Jun 27, 2015 9:18 AM

    So the Patriots can cheat as always

  34. bencoates57 says: Jun 27, 2015 9:20 AM

    I guess the FAR knows something we don’t. Like the drones will be used to sell beer and popcorn

  35. pats4rings says: Jun 27, 2015 9:22 AM

    Read headline….. Check

    Skim through article to find “Patriots”….. Check

    Submit ignorant cheating comment….. Check

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  36. charger383 says: Jun 27, 2015 9:34 AM

    when does drone hunting season start?

    will Duck Commander start making drone calls?

    will drones be used to make extra point attempts harder?

  37. rhamrhoddy says: Jun 27, 2015 9:35 AM

    kevo95 says:
    Jun 27, 2015 9:18 AM
    So the Patriots can cheat as always
    _______
    That’s some well crafted input right there. Now go grab an Advil and take the rest of the day off knucklehead!!

  38. TheDPR says: Jun 27, 2015 9:49 AM

    How high off the ground does your toy helicopter need to go in order to come into the FAA’s jurisdiction? Are there any size regulations or is little Johnny’s Christmas present considered a “drone” by big brother? What If I print ads for my business, fold them into paper airplanes and then throw them off the roof of a building?

    I’d like the FAA to do something more productive with my tax money. This entire story is absurd.

  39. theashleyguy says: Jun 27, 2015 10:02 AM

    It is the tiniest of issues, the smallest of infractions, and yet there are 2 key points:
    1. Belichick was asked about his use of drones a month ago and refused to answer. (Do you hear that–a month ago);
    2. Once again, as small as it is, there are the Patriots involved in something where they skirt the rules.

    2 other teams are involved also (actually 3 others if you read the story and its attached link), but it’s the first time for the others. It’s just part of an ongoing pattern for the Patriots.

  40. realitycheckbaby says: Jun 27, 2015 10:11 AM

    We all knew the Patriots were cheating in more ways than just deflating balls.

  41. deacon85 says: Jun 27, 2015 10:20 AM

    Listen Patriot haters, if you’re going to comment, at least try to make it funny or entertaining. Saying “oh, the Patriots are cheating again” isn’t clever or smart or fun, it’s just boring. So come on, we know you’re salivating over an article like this, but just make an effort to say something interesting. For example, aknobloch said:
    “Patriots are flying their drones over 31 cities.”
    OK, so it’s not ROTFLMAO, but at least it’s a little creative. Those of use who are Patriot fans need a reason to read the comments, so it’s up to you, Haters. Give it your best!!

  42. billsfan says: Jun 27, 2015 10:28 AM

    How dare the FAA control the Deflatriots “air” space!

    Bob says, “how we handle our ‘air-kraft’ is our business. Tom is our air traffic controller, not the FAA”. Bob demands an apology…

  43. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jun 27, 2015 10:32 AM

    daniroro says:
    Jun 27, 2015 2:56 AM
    SHOCKED!! The Patriots cheating?? omg..waiting for their answer to this one!
    =====

    The only thing this comment really says is “I didn’t understand the story”.

  44. willycents says: Jun 27, 2015 10:33 AM

    As weak as Brady’s arm is getting, look for the use of drones to carry his passes any further than the 5 yards he can throw. Patriots have found the next advancement in the use of the forward pass. Look for a rule change to allow the qb to hand off to a drone which will deliver it to a receiver in the end zone. Anything to help Brady out. See tuck rule, ball prep, etc.

  45. somethinghappeninghere says: Jun 27, 2015 10:37 AM

    “Patriot haters, if you’re going to comment, at least try to make it funny or entertaining. Saying “oh, the Patriots are cheating again” isn’t clever or smart or fun, it’s just boring. So come on, we know you’re salivating over an article like this, but just make an effort to say something interesting. For example, aknobloch said:
    “Patriots are flying their drones over 31 cities.”
    OK, so it’s not ROTFLMAO, but at least it’s a little creative. Those of use who are Patriot fans need a reason to read the comments, so it’s up to you, Haters. Give it your best!!”
    —————————————————
    How about this, deacon?

    SOP: Standard Operating Patriots

  46. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jun 27, 2015 10:39 AM

    This comments section is a microcosm of everything wrong with this country. Instead of outrage about the absurd overreach of bureaucracy and government in this country that leads a federal agency to make a stink about a team flying a tiny drone over their own property film their own practices, we get a dozen super weak jokes about the Patriots.

    Why do you think the Congress acts in such a protectionist fashion towards pro sports? Who has time to watch the government when they are so busy obsessing about sports?

  47. upstaterules says: Jun 27, 2015 10:45 AM

    The Belichick squadron are in formation over Orchard Park NY.

  48. PatriotDown says: Jun 27, 2015 10:46 AM

    Wasn’t there an accident at one of the NFL training camps (Patriots maybe?) where one of the insanely tall bucket truck they use to film practices blew over or collapsed in a gust of wind? I remember it, but can’t find much on web searches.

    Bill Belichick using a Microsoft Surface and drones ICU 1 and ICU 2 is kind of funny, since it’s well known around NE that he can’t set the clock in his car. Glad to see the Pats are using cutting edge technology once again and not backing off in their quest to win. In your face, NFL.

  49. dave399 says: Jun 27, 2015 10:53 AM

    “Listen Patriot haters, if you’re going to comment, at least try to make it funny or entertaining. Saying “oh, the Patriots are cheating again” isn’t clever or smart or fun, it’s just boring.”

    ————————————————

    Agreed. As a die hard, life long Patriots fan I even had to get in on the fun.

    The other day, there was a PFT article that mentioned an unnamed backup quarterback used to deflate footballs for the starter.

    I replied … “Matt Cassell”?

    That’s at least a LITTLE creative and chuckle worthy.

  50. patriotsfootballleague says: Jun 27, 2015 11:01 AM

    Lmao. Some of you should go back to bed, start all over later.

  51. kissbillsrings says: Jun 27, 2015 11:08 AM

    Kraft & Bill are working with NASA to launch a satalite to spy on other teams practices… Again, playing chess while others play checkers…
    Oh those EVIL Patriots are at it again!!!
    Bwaaaa haaaa ha

  52. STILLlolatpatshaters says: Jun 27, 2015 11:18 AM

    The Patriots drone won’t help. There is too much glow from those FOUR GLISTENING GLEAMING GLOWING RADIANT BEAMING SHINY LUMINOUS BRILLIANT Lombardi trophies in Foxboro. It will block the view.

    🙂

  53. sbaltimore says: Jun 27, 2015 11:48 AM

    The Cowboys are apparently using a DJI Phantom 3 camera drone. The DJI Phantom 2, which is now discontinued, sold on Amazon for around $700. So while not a toy, this isn’t some ATTACK DRONE sort of thing. It’s a tool to be used by NFL teams to get a different perspective on their practices. The fact that “drone” is linked in a lot of people’s minds to the military and spying is unfortunate but irrelevant here. No one is accusing anyone of spying. It’s just that there are FAA regs when it comes to the use of these devices. So while interesting, this is really a non-story. The teams using these little gizmos will undoubtedly fill out whatever forms they need to fill out and comply with whatever FAA regs they need to comply with. (Why they haven’t done that already might be a legitimate question, but aside from that, there’s no real story here.)

  54. whereyaat says: Jun 27, 2015 11:54 AM

    Joe Buck is evidence that the NFL has already been using drones for years.

  55. rayslover727 says: Jun 27, 2015 11:57 AM

    It’s interesting that Giants owner Mara claims that end zone cameras are too expensive, but has employed surveillance drones.

  56. thedon52 says: Jun 27, 2015 12:07 PM

    STILLlolatpatshaters says:
    Jun 27, 2015 11:18 AM
    The Patriots drone won’t help. There is too much glow from those FOUR GLISTENING GLEAMING GLOWING RADIANT BEAMING SHINY LUMINOUS BRILLIANT Lombardi trophies in Foxboro. It will block the view.
    🙂
    ———————————–
    Then I guess they won’t work for the Giants either and really won’t work in Dallas where there are 5 of those. And the combined 9 by the other two teams have no asterisks next to to help block said glow.

  57. drunkraider says: Jun 27, 2015 12:34 PM

    Teams can get drones for practice, but the 5+ BILLION dollar a year NFL cant afford cameras for the goal line so we can get correct calls.

  58. bullcharger says: Jun 27, 2015 12:47 PM

    They are just going to get waivers. Drones were used consistently to film during the Olympics. Its a regular practice now. The NFL are behind. It’s a non-issue.

  59. dolphincritic says: Jun 27, 2015 12:49 PM

    Brady is quoted as having no knowledge of any drone being flown over any city with an NFL franchise. One of the Patriots equipment managers was overheard while sitting in a bathroom stall saying, “I’ve got their game plan!” Coach Bilicheater was quoted as saying, “We are on to Cincinnati!” The owner has made no comments but is said to be taking up a collection from fans.

  60. STILLlolatpatshaters says: Jun 27, 2015 1:16 PM

    Tom Brady is the greatest QB that ever graced an NFL football field.

    All other opinions are trash and will be be treated as such.

    🙂

  61. STILLlolatpatshaters says: Jun 27, 2015 1:18 PM

    kissbillsrings says: Jun 27, 2015 11:08 AM

    Kraft & Bill are working with NASA to launch a satalite to spy on other teams practices… Again, playing chess while others play checkers…
    Oh those EVIL Patriots are at it again!!!
    Bwaaaa haaaa ha

    —–

    I think Denver Broncos are doing that. After all, the Broncos are the only team in the history of the National Football League to be fined for taping another team’s practices.

    🙂

  62. sparky151 says: Jun 27, 2015 1:20 PM

    The FAA may claim to have jurisdiction over drones but they probably don’t really have it. The FAA’s authority is derived from the Constitution’s grant to Congress of the power to regulate interstate commerce. Flying drones entirely within a state and for purposes of filming a practice is pretty much the opposite of interstate commerce. The drone itself may have been built and sold in another state but that doesn’t make it’s operation commercial whether it’s flown by a business or hobbyist.

    The Dallas Cowboys certainly engage in interstate commerce but could easily establish a Texas subsidiary that doesn’t and have the drones owned and operated by that subsidiary.

  63. swagger52 says: Jun 27, 2015 5:10 PM

    When asked about the use of drones to video other teams, Bellichek will start talking about how to calculate lift of the wings, the air pressure under the drone, the stitching of the drone, etc. He will talk about everything else except who ordered the filming of other teams. Just like deflategate, his only analysis was to confuse the issue and take the focus away from the ball boys and what they did.

  64. swagger52 says: Jun 27, 2015 5:18 PM

    When rules were changed so that Bill could no longer use the Patriot advantage for the refs to look-the-other-way with formations, he changed his preparation for the game. Bill now has a 31 drones flying in illlegal formations over the other teams, because that was not specifically called out in the new ruling.

  65. swagger52 says: Jun 27, 2015 5:20 PM

    The Giants and Cowboys got their drone from Amazon.
    Bellichek got his drone from the US Air Force because he needed it to fly long distance.

  66. liquidchaoss says: Jun 27, 2015 8:38 PM

    FAA does not have authority over drones if flown under so many feet in the air. Dunno about the commercial part.

  67. blogatron2000 says: Jun 28, 2015 12:39 AM

    “How high off the ground does your toy helicopter need to go in order to come into the FAA’s jurisdiction?”|

    Drones have a 400 ft. ceiling. Pretty sure that won’t be an issue with teams filming. I don’t understand how the FAA thinks that a team using a drone to film their own practices constitutes use of a drone for commercial purposes as long as their is no profit derived from it. If they’re providing the footage to other entities who profit from it that may be the issue.

  68. bonecrushinghits says: Jun 28, 2015 3:19 AM

    Good to know that check I have to write every April 15 is going to GREAT use! Oy

  69. madcityjd says: Jun 28, 2015 1:10 PM

    whereyaat says:
    Jun 27, 2015 11:54 AM
    Joe Buck is evidence that the NFL has already been using drones for years.

    That’s good stuff right there!!!
    What a smug turd that guy is.

  70. solo681 says: Jun 28, 2015 5:58 PM

    This is exactly what Goodell has been waiting for.

    Goodell will now remove the four game suspension against Brady for lack of sufficient evidence ( this will make himself truly impartial -Laugh) and then suspend Belichick the entire 2015 season for re-engineering Spy-Gate by use of Drone Cams without FAA & NFL approval.

    Watch for it.

  71. solo681 says: Jun 28, 2015 6:07 PM

    rickeyp says:
    Jun 27, 2015 7:26 AM
    Question is: have the Patriots had any of their employees or “contractors,” flying drones over other team’s practices, and if so, can we call it SpyDroneGate?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    No – Cannot use that name.

    SkyCam-Gate = YES

  72. Rockphin says: Jun 29, 2015 11:11 AM

    Dolphins fan here.

    Two things about this article;
    1. the teams using the drones were not breaking any NFL rule or cheating by filming OTHER team’s practices. They were filming there own.

    2. Patriots fans need to stop crying like their team is being unjustly persecuted. PLEASE! LOL Yes you guys get dogged on by the fans of the other 31 teams, an rightfully so, but the league does not show “undue” prejudice against the Patriots. If anything they get favorable treatment….

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