Belfast Telegraph

A source of trouble and safety concerns in the air over stadiums

By Claire McNeilly

The popularity of DIY drones sold over the counter is growing.

However, as these small, unmanned aircraft have become cheaper and more widely available in recent years, their usage has prompted concerns about public safety.

They have also built up a notorious reputation when it comes to football matches. One of the most high-profile incidents happened during the European Championship last October. A politically sensitive Euro 2016 qualifier between bitter rivals Serbia and Albania in Belgrade was abandoned after a drone flew over the stadium carrying a flag emblazoned with a black eagle - the symbol for Greater Albania, which is an area covering all parts of the Balkans where ethnic Albanians live.

A Serbian player eventually grabbed the flag, prompting scuffles between rival players and fans on the Partizan Stadium pitch.

Closer to home, a few days later, a man was arrested on suspicion of breaching the Air Navigation Order after one was flown over the East Stand of the Etihad Stadium during the Manchester City v Spurs Premier League game. He was later released on police bail.

It followed two other incidents when remote-controlled aircraft were flown over stadiums in Nottingham and Derby as games were under way.

A Civil Aviation spokesman said that in the UK the rules state you should not fly any kind of drone within 150m of a built-up area. Further legislation forbids flying within 150m of a large gathering of people in open spaces.

Belfast Telegraph


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