February 2, 2019 / 10:40 PM / in 5 months

Six drones confiscated in Atlanta ahead of Super Bowl

FILE PHOTO: Feb 1, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; A general view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium exterior. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Authorities in Atlanta have confiscated six drones that violated a temporary order not to fly the devices in the area ahead of the NFL’s Super Bowl on Sunday, federal officials said.

Drone flight was prohibited on Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. EST on Sunday for one nautical mile (2 km) around the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and up to an altitude of 1,000 feet (305 meters), the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The FAA will establish temporary flight restriction that prohibits drones within a 30-nautical-mile radius of the stadium and up to 17,999 feet in altitude from 5:30 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, the agency said.

The kick off for Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (1130 GMT)

Drones “are a big concern,” said Nick Annan, Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge. “There are a few other things that are in place to mitigate drones,” he added without elaborating.

Operators who send drones into restricted areas around the Mercedes-Benz Stadium could face more than $20,000 in civil penalties and criminal prosecution, according to the FAA.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Atlanta said on Twitter on Friday that it had confiscated the six drones in the run-up to the game but did not provide details.

Drone sightings caused chaos in December at Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest airport, disrupting the travel plans of tens of thousands of people in the run-up to Christmas.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Alistair Bell

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