Nationals told to stop using drones

Updated: March 18, 2014, 3:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals were told last month by the Federal Aviation Administration to stop using a small, four-rotor drone to take publicity photos at the team's spring training facility without the agency's permission.

"No, we didn't get it cleared, but we don't get our pop flies cleared either and those go higher than this thing did,'' a team official told The Associated Press.

The drone flights ceased the next day. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named.

The FAA bars commercial use of drones no matter how seemingly benign. The lone exception is an oil company that has been granted permission to fly drones over the Arctic Ocean, and it took an act of Congress to win that concession.

FAA officials say rules to address the special safety challenges associated with unmanned aircraft need to be in place before they can share the sky with manned aircraft. The agency has worked on those regulations for the past decade and is still months and possibly years away from issuing final rules for small drones, which are defined as those weighing less than 55 pounds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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