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Private planes, drones will be restricted over Twin Cities during Super Bowl

Private aircraft and drones will be restricted from flying near U.S. Bank Stadium during Super Bowl LII, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials said Monday.

Temporary flight restrictions — up to 18,000 feet within 30 miles of the Minneapolis stadium — will go into effect 3:30 p.m. Sunday and expire at 11:59 p.m. that evening. That doesn’t include commercial flights, or emergency medical, police, public safety and military flights.

Kurt Mara, a traffic management officer for the FAA, said Monday such restrictions are common for big sporting events like the Super Bowl. The last time such broad restrictions were in place in the Twin Cities was in 2008 for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

An extra 1,100 to 1,600 private aircraft are expected to transport Super Bowl fans to the Twin Cities this week, but some will use reliever airports, including Anoka County-Blaine, Flying Cloud in Eden Prairie and St. Paul Downtown.

The FAA will boost staffing of air traffic controllers and managers by 50 percent at MSP to handle increased air traffic, but officials on Monday were unsure how much that would cost the federal agency. Most aircraft are expected to arrive between Friday night and Sunday morning. The Transportation Security Administration expects Monday to be the busiest day in airport history for passenger screenings at MSP.

One unknown is whether President Donald Trump will attend the event. “Any time the president arrives we go into a ground stop, where nobody else is allowed to land or take off and all traffic on the ground stops,” said Phil Burke, director of MSP operations for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “You go into freeze mode for about 20 minutes until the president’s aircraft is secured.”

Air traffic controllers working at the tower Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will oversee a record number of travelers flying into the Twin Cities.

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