NFL granted permission to fly drones in stadiums…sort of

by Gannon Burgett

posted Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 11:34 AM EST

To roughly rework the already misquoted Neil Armstrong, ‘one small step for drone owners, one giant leap for Goodell.’

Five months after applying for an exemption, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted permission for NFL Films, the leagues media production division, to use drones, making it the first professional sports league allowed to use the flight of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Don’t get too excited about the potential of new camera angles for your Sunday parties, though. The document, which you can read in its entirety below, does have a few stipulations in place, mostly in part to prevent accidents and injuries.

Most notably, NFL Films is only able to use drones on practice facilities and during off days, when the stands are empty. Also, the document states the drones can only be used for data collection, meaning the use of drones for promotional means or delivery of items to fans is a big no-no, for now.

Also, the NFL is subject to the FAA’s overarching guidelines. This ensures drones are limited to 55 lbs in weight and can only fly up to 400 feet off the ground.

As explained by Fortune, the FAA granted their exemption on public-safety grounds. According to the FAA, the exemption is ‘in the public interest’ considering it’s far safer to use drones than manned aircraft, particularly those with flammable fuel on-board.

The FAA letter notes the NFL will fly the DJI Phantom 1, DJI Phantom 2 and DJI Inspire 1 drones for filming and other data collection purposes.

Image credits: Illustration based on Invesco Field by Jeramey Jannene used under CC BY 2.0