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Thread: Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones

  1. #1

    Default Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones

    Interesting
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100614/...s_over_america
    By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 14, 10:01 am ET
    WASHINGTON Unmanned aircraft have proved their usefulness and reliability in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the pressure's on to allow them in the skies over the United States.

    The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to issue flying rights for a range of pilotless planes to carry out civilian and law-enforcement functions but has been hesitant to act. Officials are worried that they might plow into airliners, cargo planes and corporate jets that zoom around at high altitudes, or helicopters and hot air balloons that fly as low as a few hundred feet off the ground.

    On top of that, these pilotless aircraft come in a variety of sizes. Some are as big as a small airliner, others the size of a backpack. The tiniest are small enough to fly through a house window.

    The obvious risks have not deterred the civilian demand for pilotless planes. Tornado researchers want to send them into storms to gather data. Energy companies want to use them to monitor pipelines. State police hope to send them up to capture images of speeding cars' license plates. Local police envision using them to track fleeing suspects.

    Like many robots, the planes have advantages over humans for jobs that are dirty, dangerous or dull. And the planes often cost less than piloted aircraft and can stay aloft far longer.

    "There is a tremendous pressure and need to fly unmanned aircraft in (civilian) airspace," Hank Krakowski, FAA's head of air traffic operations, told European aviation officials recently. "We are having constant conversations and discussions, particularly with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, to figure out how we can do this safely with all these different sizes of vehicles."

    There are two types of unmanned planes: Drones, which are automated planes programmed to fly a particular mission, and aircraft that are remotely controlled by someone on the ground, sometimes from thousands of miles away.

    Last year, the FAA promised defense officials it would have a plan this year. The agency, which has worked on this issue since 2006, has reams of safety regulations that govern every aspect of civilian aviation but is just beginning to write regulations for unmanned aircraft.

    "I think industry and some of the operators are frustrated that we're not moving fast enough, but safety is first," Krakowski said in an interview. "This isn't Afghanistan. This isn't Iraq. This is a part of the world that has a lot of light airplanes flying around, a lot of business jets."

    One major concern is the prospect of lost communication between unmanned aircraft and the operators who remotely control them. Another is a lack of firm separation of aircraft at lower altitudes, away from major cities and airports. Planes entering these areas are not required to have collision warning systems or even transponders. Simply being able to see another plane and take action is the chief means of preventing accidents.

    The Predator B, already in use for border patrol, can fly for 20 hours without refueling, compared with a helicopter's average flight time of just over two hours. Homeland Security wants to expand their use along the borders of Mexico and Canada, and along coastlines for spotting smugglers of drugs and illegal aliens. The Coast Guard wants to use them for search and rescue.

    The National Transportation Safety Board held a forum in 2008 on safety concerns associated with pilotless aircraft after a Predator crashed in Arizona. The board concluded the ground operator remotely controlling the plane had inadvertently cut off the plane's fuel.

    Texas officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, have been leaning on the FAA to approve requests to use unmanned aircraft along the Texas-Mexico border. FAA recently approved one request to use the planes along the border near El Paso, but another request to use them along the Texas Gulf Coast and near Brownsville is still pending.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has told lawmakers that safety concerns are behind the delays. Cornyn is blocking a Senate confirmation vote on President Barack Obama's nominee for the No. 2 FAA job, Michael Huerta, to keep the pressure on.

    Other lawmakers want an overall plan to speed up use of the planes beyond the border. A bill approved by the Senate gives FAA a year to come up with a plan; a House version extends the deadline until Sept. 30, 2013, but directs the transportation secretary to give unmanned aircraft permission to fly before the plan is complete, if that can be done safely.

    Marion Blakey, a former FAA administrator and president of the Aerospace Industries Association, whose members include unmanned aircraft developers, said the agency has been granting approvals on a case by case basis but the pace is picking up. She acknowledged that there are still safety concerns that need to be addressed before the planes can be used more widely.

    Some concerns will be alleviated when the FAA moves from a radar-based air traffic control system to one based on GPS technology. Then, every aircraft will be able to advise controllers and other aircraft of their location continually. However, that's a decade off.

    Michael Barr, a University of Southern California aviation safety instructor, said the matter should not be rushed.

    "All it takes is one catastrophe," Barr said. "They'll investigate, find they didn't do it correctly, there'll be an outcry and it will set them back years."
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  2. #2
    Administrator Bill Cosby's Avatar
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    Taking big brother & peeping tom to the next level........
    We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions.
    Howard Zinn

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

    Louis D. Brandeis

  3. #3

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    I would bet they'd be used for more that the borders and search and rescue. Just more big brother stuff. They won't be happy until they force us all to purchase a camera for our homes so the gov't can watch......
    "It isn't always easy maintaining a positive attitude, but it remains the better choice between the two."

    Me, myself and I......

  4. #4

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    If they started intruding and spying it would be interesting to see how many are shot down.
    The Shadow Party derives its power from its ability to raise huge sums of money. By controlling the Democrat purse strings, the Shadow Party can make or break any Democrat candidate by deciding whether or not to fund him. During the 2004 election cycle, the Shadow Party raised more than $300 million for Democrat candidates, prompting one of its operatives, MoveOn PAC director Eli Pariser, to declare, 'Now its our party. We bought it, we own it'

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by wayers57
    If they started intruding and spying it would be interesting to see how many are shot down.

    We'll let you take the first pot shot at them.....
    "It isn't always easy maintaining a positive attitude, but it remains the better choice between the two."

    Me, myself and I......

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Binky
    We'll let you take the first pot shot at them.....
    I won't have to, one of the nuts from Knob Creek will
    The Shadow Party derives its power from its ability to raise huge sums of money. By controlling the Democrat purse strings, the Shadow Party can make or break any Democrat candidate by deciding whether or not to fund him. During the 2004 election cycle, the Shadow Party raised more than $300 million for Democrat candidates, prompting one of its operatives, MoveOn PAC director Eli Pariser, to declare, 'Now its our party. We bought it, we own it'

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by wayers57
    I won't have to, one of the nuts from Knob Creek will

    That could be true. There are enough weapons there to start a war.....
    "It isn't always easy maintaining a positive attitude, but it remains the better choice between the two."

    Me, myself and I......

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Binky
    That could be true. There are enough weapons there to start a war.....
    It gave me the fever, I have bought 2 handguns and 4 rifles since that event.
    The Shadow Party derives its power from its ability to raise huge sums of money. By controlling the Democrat purse strings, the Shadow Party can make or break any Democrat candidate by deciding whether or not to fund him. During the 2004 election cycle, the Shadow Party raised more than $300 million for Democrat candidates, prompting one of its operatives, MoveOn PAC director Eli Pariser, to declare, 'Now its our party. We bought it, we own it'

  9. #9
    Administrator Bill Cosby's Avatar
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    Not sure where knob creek is?? Is that in the moonshine state by chance??lol

    I was thinking the same thing about some ppl using them for target practice....... But I think some of them can fly very high..

    ???????????????

    I also wonder why ppl or kids (they aint ppl till 18.lol) don't vandalize those photo enforced right light cameras...............???

    I would of thought a baseball bat or spray paint would be a real problem......
    We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions.
    Howard Zinn

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

    Louis D. Brandeis

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Cosby
    Not sure where knob creek is?? Is that in the moonshine state by chance??lol
    Here is a good video, the actual site is between Louisville and Elizabethtown KY:

    The Shadow Party derives its power from its ability to raise huge sums of money. By controlling the Democrat purse strings, the Shadow Party can make or break any Democrat candidate by deciding whether or not to fund him. During the 2004 election cycle, the Shadow Party raised more than $300 million for Democrat candidates, prompting one of its operatives, MoveOn PAC director Eli Pariser, to declare, 'Now its our party. We bought it, we own it'

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