Drone hobbyists be warned: On game day, Baltimore’s stadium skies belong to the Ravens and Orioles.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday confirmed it is investigating a rogue drone that was spotted hovering above M&T Bank Stadium Thursday night. The sighting led officials to temporarily halt the Ravens-Bengals game in the second quarter. Another delay came later during the fourth quarter, but Ravens representatives said at the time it was unrelated to the drone.
In a statement Friday, representatives for the Maryland Stadium Authority said security and Maryland State Police were able to locate the unnamed drone pilot and directed them to immediately land the drone. The individual was unaware of the restrictions and did not have a waiver to operate the drone during the game. Authorities have since forwarded details of the incident to the FAA’s law enforcement assistance program.
According to the FAA, drones cannot be flown within 3 miles of a stadium starting one hour before a scheduled game until one hour after the event ends for any National Football League or Major League Baseball game. That’s also the case for NCAA Division One football games and several car racing series.
Stadium officials said the NFL’s security requirements state games must halt while a drone is above the seating bowl of a venue. Ahead of the 2021 sports seasons, the Maryland Stadium Authority installed drone detecting and deterring technologies as well as signage reminding fans that the complex is a “No Drone Zone.”
The FAA looks into all reports of unauthorized drone operations and investigates when appropriate. Although the agency does not have the authority to prosecute criminal charges, drone operators who conduct unsafe operations that endanger other aircraft or people on the ground could face fines that exceed $30,000.
The Maryland General Assembly passed a law in 2015 regulating the recreational and commercial use of unmanned aircrafts in the state. Drone hobbyists are legally required to pass an FAA safety test and obtain a certificate to show law enforcement if they ask for it. The FAA can suspend or revoke drone operators’ pilot certificates if they are found to be using drones improperly.