FAA bans drones for Pope's visit

FAA bans drones for Pope's visit
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The Federal Aviation Administration is banning the use of nonmilitary drones during the Pope's scheduled visit to Philadelphia in September. 

The agency said it is issuing the ban for Sept. 26-27 at the request of the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to "provide a safe and secure environment for the event but also ensure fair and equitable access to all airspace users to the greatest extent possible" for Pope FrancisPope FrancisEx-Cardinal McCarrick charged with sexual assault of teen The faith community can help pass a reparations bill Pope encourages audience to take a break from stresses of modern life MORE' Philadelphia visit  

The agency said the flight restriction will cover "Model Aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft (A.K.A. Drones), Aerobatic Maneuvers, Glider Operations, Parachute Operations, Ultralights, Lighter than Air/Balloon/Moored Balloon, Agricultural/Crop Dusting/Spraying, Animal Population Control, Banner Towing, Utility/Pipeline Patrols, Aircraft/Helicopters operating from a ship or private/corporate yacht, Model Rockets, or Maintenance Flights, Flight Training, and Practice Approaches are prohibited – including DOD, Law Enforcement and Air Ambulance." 

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The pope is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia on Sept. 22-27. He will give a speech to a joint session of Congress and also speak on Sept. 26 at Philadelphia's Independence Hall and deliver a mass sermon on the city's Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sept. 27. 

The FAA is in the process of developing regulations for allowing a rapid expansion of the use of commercial drones in the U.S.

The agency has faced tremendous pressure to approve such an expansion of nonmilitary drone use from companies such as Amazon, who have said the technology can be used to make speedier online deliveries. 

Police and other law enforcement groups were also seeking approval to use the technology, and the FAA has investigated several drone incidents that occurred in conjunction with photography at college and professional sporting events.

The agency said recently that it has approved more than 1,000 drone flights under a section of federal law that allows the Transportation Department to wave requirements for FAA approval for unnamed aircraft operations that take place outside of restricted airspace and below 200 feet. 

The agency said this week that the exemptions will be suspended in the Philadelphia area during the pope's visit, however. 

"All flight waivers (including UAS Section 333 Exemption or [Certificates of Waiver or Authorization]) to operate within the [Temporary Flight Restriction] will be temporarily suspended during the time of this [Notice to Airmen]," the agency said. 

The full flight restriction advisory notice can be read here