FAA Investigates Cowboys' Drone Use, Team Files Exemption - The UpStream

FAA Investigates Cowboys' Drone Use, Team Files Exemption

posted Sunday Jan 24, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo

FAA Investigates Cowboys' Drone Use, Team Files Exemption

Back in June, the Dallas Cowboys announced that they would be combining sports and tech and introduced the use of drones during their practices and workouts. This was an innovative way to use the technology in a commercial space, and gave the NFL team a literal new perspective on the team's performance. Unfortunately, it didn't help the Cowboys, as the team suffered yet another disastrous losing season. But the bad news didn't stop there; the Cowboys also came under some hot fire with the FAA.

The Federal Aviation Administration said that the team never sought permission from the agency in order to use the drones, and consider that the Cowboys are a for-profit business, the practice was considered illegal. This resulted in the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys becoming the target of an investigation by the FAA to find out just how the drones were being used. Turns out, unlike the Patriots, there was no underlying wrongdoing, however the team was still not in the clear.

The Cowboys, following the probing, have since filed a "333" exemption, which the FAA granted. This gives the Cowboys permission to use drones within the facility, and also for filming purposes. This adds the team to the list of more than 3,000 other commercial entities in the US who have filed for the same ability to legally operate a drone.

There are, however, a couple caveats. 31, in fact. The FAA has given the football team almost three dozen provisions they must abide by, including the ones that are outlined in the FAA's drone operation guidelines. Most of these are pretty straight forward, such as the drone must be under 55 pounds and be within the operator's line of sight. Others regarding aerial filming require that an exemption be submitted in writing 3 days prior to any filmed activity. Considering that practices are Tuesday through Friday, that's a lot of paperwork.

The NFL has also filed for the same exemption and it too was granted. There's speculation that 4K cameras will be mounted and experimented with during the week of Super Bowl 50, and possibly even during the big game.


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