As the NFL opens its 2022 season Thursday night with a high-profile clash between the Rams and the Bills, the league remains concerned about unauthorized drones infiltrating stadiums and could cause “catastrophic results.”
NFL Chief Security Officer Cathy Lanier told Bloomberg Gov. the league is concerned about “the nefarious actor” who may be directing a drone near or into a league venue and crash or maybe trigger an attack.
“The frustration is twofold: keeping pace with technology so that we have the technology to counter threats as they evolve, but also having the legislation to support our ability to keep pace with this threat,” Lanier said. at Bloomberg.
As of now, federal officials have the power to intercept threatening drones, usually by hacking into their communications signals, though the legislation Lanier mentioned is set to expire Oct. 5. The Biden administration has proposed a bill that would grant federal officials the ability to counter unauthorized drones, as well as empower local law enforcement to do the same. But this bill is currently in limbo.
According to the Bloomberg government report, there were 1,400 instances of drones wading through NFL airspace last season. According to federal law, drones are not allowed to fly within three miles of a stadium from one hour before a major event until one hour after – an executive order that applies to the NFL, to MLB, NCAA football, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Champ Series races. . Violators of the law can be fined up to $37,377 and possibly criminal prosecution.
These rules do not apply to stadiums that hold fewer than 30,000 spectators, which impacts minor leagues and smaller facilities. As it stands, the FAA estimates there are 860,000 registered drones in the United States and that number could rise to 2.6 million by 2025.
Last year alone, the FAA says there were 2,595 unauthorized drone sightings in the United States. To counter this, venues such as New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium have partnered with AeroDefense to use the company’s drone detection system. AeroDefense’s AirWarden system can capture radio frequencies emitted by drones, and its sensors can decipher the drone’s location on a laptop computer in real time.
“The attitude of most stadium staff I’ve spoken to over the years is that it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong,” said coach Mike McCormick. of the Stadium Managers Association, to Bloomberg Government.