NYPD sends counter-drone team to U.S. Open to intercept illegal drone flights

The NYPD will send a counter-drone team to the U.S. Open to spot and intercept any illegal drone flights that might be taking place during the tennis tournament in New York this year.

NYPD sends a counter-drone team to U.S. Open to intercept illegal drone flights

The U.S. Open is concerned about possible rogue drones during their tennis tournament this year, and so the New York Police Department (NYPD) will be present at the event with a counter-drone team to intercept any unmanned aircraft flying illegally over the stadium.

So of yet, the U.S. Open tennis tournament is set to take place on August 31st without the presence of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TMZ reports that the NYPD is anticipating an uptick in drone activity around Flushing Meadows from both journalists and fans trying to get an aerial photo or video of the action.

The organizers are concerned that such drone flights could not only cause a distraction but even risk the safety of the tennis players. To prevent such scenarios, the NYPD has committed to send a counter-drone team to keep an eye on the sky.

“Drones are illegal over New York City and anyone using one needs to basically have a pilot’s license and a flight plan,” an NYPD spokesperson tells TMZ Sports.

The police department told the news outlet that they use sensors to pick up on any drone signals and that with handheld devices they can take control of the unmanned aircraft.

Illegal drone operators could face stiff penalties if caught, especially when a drone happens to hit a person.

At this point in time, we do not know if a TFR will be issued over the stadium during the event but either way you’re not allowed to take off or land an (unmanned) aircraft within the city limits except in a few select locations and following the FAA rules you are not allowed to fly your drone over people, beyond-visual-line-of-sight or at night. So, it is probably best to just watch the event from home.

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Photo credit: U.S. Open

About the author

Haye Kesteloo

2 comments

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  • Actually you can fly both at night and over people with a waiver of part 107 rules if approved by the FAA. I have a waiver to fly at night, but was denied twice on an application to fly over people. The FAA approves less than 2.5 percent of fly over people waiver applications because most pilots cannot show they have an adequate plan in place to mitigate the danger to people under the drone should it fall from the sky. The only legal way to fly over people is 1. Everyone involved in the shoot is aware of the drone (as in a wedding or real estate video) or 2. Everyone beneath the drone is under protective cover. 30 percent of fly at night waiver requests are approved because the rules are less stringent. Although my night waiver was ultimately approved, it took 4 months to get it.