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Working the Grand Opening of an NHL Arena - TFR Questions

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I've been working with the New York Islanders for over a year now to document the construction of their new UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Queens, NY. I've already received long-term airspace authorizations from the Drone Zone (it's in both LGA and JFK airspace), but I'm wondering about the possibility of a TFR during the grand opening night next Saturday the 20th. It's my understanding that there will likely be a 5-mile TFR around the arena since it's a major league sporting event, but it's also my understanding that I'd be exempt from that since I'm actively working with the people responsible for the reason for the TFR (the NY Islanders and UBS Arena). Last time I had to fly during a TFR I spent half a day on the phone, culminating in having to convince an actual Secret Service Agent that the mission was worth it and ended up having to call before every takeoff to keep the goons away. Hoping to avoid that this time.

My questions:
  • Is everything I said above accurate? Am I ok to fly in the eyes of the FAA since I have both airspace authorizations (I have three active simultaneously actually!) and am part of the sporting event crew?
  • I'll likely need to get GeoFencing Unlock licenses for my DJI drones, right? (2 I2s and a M2P)
  • I'll need to re-read the fine print of my authorizations, but do TFRs typically negate these in any way that would make them invalid despite my working with the team?
  • Do I need to separately contact the FAA to tell them that I want to fly during the TFR?
  • Any tips?
In case you're curious, here's a video the team put together from some of my recent flights: Login • Instagram
 
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BigAl07

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In order to be "legal" you'll need to contact the Agency Requesting the TFR (I would think NHL) and get it in writing from them when, where, and how you'll be flying. Once they have provided this in writing you can submit it to DJI for unlocking EACH flight controller. It's hit or miss for some people so plan ahead.

The TFR over rides any other authorizations in terms of restrictions but even having permission to fly by the Agency (assuming NHL) does not give you authorization. You must have BOTH in order to make this series of flights legally.

I would contact the Agency (NHL) and start there and then once you have that paperwork in hand THEN reach out to your Authorization contacts locally (FAA) and get them in the loop. Basically EVERYONE has to agree or no one flies. Any hurdle and you're grounded. Since you're already working with them it should be an easy task but something the easiest can be the most taxing on us.

As a side note... it's possible for the FAA to restrict you from flying the event even if the league says yes. If any "additional security teams" are planning to fly the event or such it will be denied. Remember it's a very fluid and complicated dance trying to coordinate various agencies and if your flights cause a conflict they have full jurisdiction to deny the flights.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 
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Dave Pitman

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I agree with @BigAl07 s guidance, but I'll add one thing regarding DJI. If it were me, I would not let DJI GO connect to the internet anytime after the TFR is published. The app will not need to be unlocked if it never sees the TFR and the airspace is otherwise not on their map. Even if DJI gives you an unlock, something could still go wrong. Best to keep them out of the loop if possible.
 

Vic Moss

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The Stadium TFR does not cover the NHL. If there is going to be a TFR, then they'd have to request one specifically for that event. And given that it's an indoor event, it's unlikely to need one.

Since you're working with them, they'd be the ones to ask if they're going to ask for one.
 
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rolling56

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I've been working with the New York Islanders for over a year now to document the construction of their new UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Queens, NY. I've already received long-term airspace authorizations from the Drone Zone (it's in both LGA and JFK airspace), but I'm wondering about the possibility of a TFR during the grand opening night next Saturday the 20th. It's my understanding that there will likely be a 5-mile TFR around the arena since it's a major league sporting event, but it's also my understanding that I'd be exempt from that since I'm actively working with the people responsible for the reason for the TFR (the NY Islanders and UBS Arena). Last time I had to fly during a TFR I spent half a day on the phone, culminating in having to convince an actual Secret Service Agent that the mission was worth it and ended up having to call before every takeoff to keep the goons away. Hoping to avoid that this time.

My questions:
  • Is everything I said above accurate? Am I ok to fly in the eyes of the FAA since I have both airspace authorizations (I have three active simultaneously actually!) and am part of the sporting event crew?
  • I'll likely need to get GeoFencing Unlock licenses for my DJI drones, right? (2 I2s and a M2P)
  • I'll need to re-read the fine print of my authorizations, but do TFRs typically negate these in any way that would make them invalid despite my working with the team?
  • Do I need to separately contact the FAA to tell them that I want to fly during the TFR?
  • Any tips?
In case you're curious, here's a video the team put together from some of my recent flights: Login • Instagram
I'd say same as last time. Let us know how this one goes.
 

MapMaker53

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Just curious how the shoot went. Were you able to fly the event?

I'm particularly interested because my company was involved in the environmental aspect of the arena project and I was originally to fly and document our onsite work. I had already obtained flight clearance from FAA JFK/LGA ATC for that area, but the New York Racing Association (who owns the property) added so many stipulations and legal liabilities to the contract that our legal department felt it just wasn't worth pursuing that aspect. Too bad, because I was looking forward to flying there. For those not familiar, the new arena is built on part of the Belmont Race Track property (thoroughbred horse racing) and lies within JFK and LGA shared airspace.
 
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