Sports Contractors Could Benefit from an Easing of Drone Restrictions

The Game of Drones continues to draw players – in fact, a recent article in Forbes noted the commercial drone sector is expected to generate $2.3 billion in investments next year. By 2025, its economic impact is set to almost double, forecast to surpass $5 billion.

A standing-room-only session at the most recent Technical Meeting discussed the use of drones by ASBA’s members. In the sports facility industry, drones are being used to do everything from survey land to make educational videos to capture aerial views of sports facilities that can later be used in applications for ASBA’s awards program. (To download the PowerPoint from this presentation, visit ASBA’s website here, and search for Session 6F.)

Recently, however, increased regulation of drones has made it necessary for operators to proceed with caution. According to FAA regulations effective December 21, 2015, anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft of a certain weight must register with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry before they fly outdoors. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties. In addition, an increasing number of jurisdictions, sports facilities and others have created their own regulations regarding ‘no-fly-zones’ for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  (The BJK National Tennis Center is one example.)

It looks like some relief might be in sight, however. According to an article in Fierce Mobile IT, he FAA is setting up an aviation rulemaking committee – made up of industry stakeholders – that will consider easing restrictions on small commercial drones flying over groups of people “not directly involved in the operation of the aircraft,” such as sporting events and urban areas. The committee was scheduled to begin work this month, and to issue a final report to the FAA by April 1.

ASBA will continue to follow this issue and to report on it; however, in the meantime, the FAA has a comprehensive website on the use of private drones, including FAQs, news, proposed rules and more.

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