The Austin City Council is looking for ways to restrict planes towing advertising banners from flying around their city.  Some residents have complained that the noise is an annoyance.

Residents of Houston and the surrounding area find the sight of a small plane up in the air towing a flowing banner for some company or another a very familiar sight. 

Charles Williams of Nighthawk Aerial Advertising, who frequently fly over Houston, tells KTRH the FAA has jurisdiction and he’s not sure if Austin can do that.  “They [the FAA] issue a waiver, and basically that waiver allows you to fly in federal airspace, which is what the airspace above the ground is considered.  It’s not controlled by any municipality.”

Michael Epperson, Vice President of Sales at AirSign Advertising, explained to KTRH that local governments can ban the launching and dropping of advertising banners from their airports,

Epperson says the FAA has strict rules for aircraft towing banners flying in heavily populated areas.  “The altitude of my flight pattern [logged with the FAA] would have to be one-thousand-feet above any obstacle below, meaning a building.  And at least a radius of 500 feet away from the obstacle,” he says.

Epperson says after 9/11 the FAA brought in new restrictions for ad-planes. In the immediate aftermath they were grounded for several months. Prior to the terrorist attack the planes could fly over a sports stadium for the duration of the game.  “And that was prime-advertising space for aerial advertising.”  Now they are limited to flying before and after a game, but must vacate the airspace during the actual event.  Epperson says those temporary flight restrictions apply to any place where there is a large concentration of people.