(New throughout, adds comment from drone’s manufacturer7)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it was investigating reports that a drone flew over Boston’s Fenway Park during a baseball game, and the drone’s manufacturer said the user apparently overrode a system designed to prevent flights over prohibited areas such as sporting events.
The Boston Red Sox said on Friday that a drone flew over the playing field during the late innings of Thursday’s evening game against the Toronto Blue Jays. FAA regulations prohibit flying drones around stadiums during major sporting events.
Footage aired on TV showed the drone hovering over the playing field. The club said it “reported the incident to the Boston Police Department for investigation.”
The drone appeared to be a DJI Phantom, the manufacturer said in a statement Friday.
“We are trying to learn more about what happened, and stand ready to work with Boston Police and other security agencies to investigate this incident,” the U.S. unit of Shenzhen, China-based SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd said in a statement Friday.
“Whoever flew this drone over the stadium apparently overrode our geofencing system and deliberately violated the FAA temporary flight restriction in place over the game.”
The company added the “incident shows why the federal government must mandate a remote identification system for airborne drones as soon as possible.”
U.S. regulators are grappling with how to address drones in unauthorized areas and integrate them into U.S. airspace.
FBI deputy assistant director Scott Brunner told a Senate committee last year the agency was “concerned that criminals and terrorists will exploit (drones) in ways that pose a serious threat to the safety of the American people.”
Threats could include surveillance, chemical, biological or radiological attacks or attacks “on large open air venues” like concerts and sporting events and attacks against government facilities, he said.
In January, the FAA said 43 flights into New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport were required to hold after a reported drone sighting at a nearby airport, while nine flights were diverted.
Major U.S. airports are assessing the threat of drones and have been holding meetings to address the issue.
The U.S. Congress last year gave the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security new powers to disable or destroy threatening drones after officials raised concerns about the use of drones as potential weapons. (Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)