The NFL’s Tennessee Titans Green-Lighted to Fly Drones


The National Football League’s (NFL) Tennessee Titans organization has received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to commercially fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

In a Section 333 exemption request submitted earlier this year, Anthony Pastrana, video director of Tennessee Titans Football Inc., wrote that drones “would permit [him] to more thoroughly video record team football practices for internal evaluation.”

According to his exemption grant dated Nov. 5, Pastrana is permitted to use the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. The aircraft, which DJI first introduced in April, captures 4K video and 12 mp aerial imagery.

Drone operations will take place at the Titans’ headquarters in Nashville at Saint Thomas Sports Park, which is described in the petition as “a private, 31-acre site” with “24/7 security operations with limited public access.”

The official site of the Tennessee Titans describes Pastrana’s duties as “compiling and editing all game and practice tapes for coaches’ analysis, cataloging NFL game tapes and producing ‘cut-ups.’” In addition, he “manages all video equipment and design of the Titans’ video department” and has held the position of video director for 12 years.

In his petition, Pastrana maintains that drone operations would be “limited, controlled, predetermined and safe” and that the approval would “increase public awareness of UAS operations and enhance safety to the general public.”

Notably, about a year ago, the Tennessee Titans organization spoke out about the need for tighter UAS restrictions over crowded events in Nashville, including the Titans’ practices. An aerial, drone-captured video of the team’s then-LP Field (now Nissan Stadium) had surfaced not long before that.

According to a report from The Tennesseean, the Titans have previously experimented with drones to record team practices. Some NFL teams, including the New England Patriots, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, have reportedly been investigated by the FAA for their drone usage. The Giants wrote in a June blog post that an unmanned aircraft “enables the coaches to study plays from a straight overhead angle, which wasn’t previously possible.”

Recently, NFL Films, the production company of the NFL, got its own commercial exemption from the FAA to operate UAS – the DJI Phantom 1, DJI Phantom 2 and DJI Inspire 1 – for photography and cinematography purposes at NFL facilities (only on non-game days).

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