The FBI is cautioning drone pilots against flying them anywhere near the site of the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia – not only on game day but leading up to it as well.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced earlier this week that it would put a temporary flight restriction on drones around the around the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday as well as the three days beforehand, and both the FAA and the FBI have been hammering this home on social media over the course of the last week.
Still, the FBI’s Atlanta field office said that it had confiscated six drones on Thursday, with officials on Friday claiming that the area around the stadium has been “inundated” with drone activity, according to the Associated Press.
#FBI Atlanta is reiterating the message that #ATLSB53 is a #NODRONEZONE after six were confiscated yesterday for violating the current TFR in place. #SBPublicSafety @FAANews https://t.co/zC7fXEjUoA pic.twitter.com/HubzXCV5XT
— FBI Atlanta (@FBIAtlanta) February 1, 2019
“It has taken up a lot of time for our agents and for law enforcement officers to be targeting these drones when they could be working on other security measures,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said.
Drones are a problem for law enforcement for several reasons, the most obvious being potential terrorist threats. Rowson noted that drones can also be dangerous if they lose control and crash into a crowd, or if they come into contact with aircraft patrolling the area around Atlanta.
As the Associated Press noted, for a good example of how seriously officials take this kind of activity, look no further than Gatwick Airport. In December, multiple drone sightings resulted in the disruption of more than 1,000 flights over the course of three days as investigators struggled to determine the motivations behind the incident. Such a stunt at an airport could carry a sentence of five years in prison and an unlimited fine.
As for the Super Bowl? Aside from possible jail time, Politico reported that drone ban offenders could be looking at up to $20,000 (£15,200) in fines.
The FAA said it’s currently restricting drones within one nautical mile (1.8 kilometres) of the stadium, but that the flight ban will stretch to 30 nautical miles (55.5 kilometres) beginning at 5:30 p.m. EST (10:30 p.m. GMT) and ending around midnight on Sunday (5:00 a.m. GMT on Monday). So, you know, it’s probably best to just avoid flying a drone in Atlanta for the remainder of the weekend. [FAA, Associated Press]
Featured image: Jeff Martin (AP)