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FAA is exploring drone use by NFL teams

At least three NFL teams are using remote-controlled aircraft to film practices. And that practice has drawn the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to Bloomberg News, the FAA is looking into the use of so-called drones by the Cowboys, Giants, and Patriots, because it’s technically illegally to fly unmanned aircraft for a commercial purpose without first getting a waiver from the FAA.

The agency said it has been in touch with the Cowboys, in order to explain to America’s Team “the proper procedure for obtaining the necessary exemption” from the American government. The FAA also intends to contact both the Giants and the Patriots about the procedure for getting the requisite FAA waiver.

None of the three teams obtained a waiver before putting the drones into use. They can be used indoors without restriction or limitation. When used outside, the FAA has full jurisdiction.

Teams can use drones outdoors without FAA permission, if the drones are being operated by contractors who have obtained FAA authorization.

At least one other team -- the Titans -- is using drones, but the FAA has not yet added them to the list of teams to be contacted. The NFL said it has not yet heard from the FAA about the issue, and that the NFL has not yet discussed drone policies.

Bloomberg notes that there have been no known deaths arising from the operation of small drones, but a remote-controlled aircraft in the shape of a lawnmower killed a fan at a Jets game in 1979.