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UAVs Invade Public Airspace

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are increasingly being used as surveillance devices in battlezones like Iraq. However, the Gaston County Police Department in North Carolina recently purchased a CyberBUG UAV from Cyber Defense Systems.


(CyberBUG UAV)

Upon hearing that the officers intended to deploy the UAV, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) successfully worked with the FAA to keep this and other UAVs out of navigable airspace over Gaston county.

The AOPA's concern is simple; the CyberBUG UAV cruises at 29 mph at 1,300 feet. Also, it can fly in autonomous mode for up to forty-five minutes, following a prerecorded flight plan. The device has no way of sensing and avoiding other aircraft.

"Safety is paramount, and current airspace users must be assured that a reasonable level of safety can be maintained," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "The prospect of small UAVs flitting around in the same airspace we use is frightening. We know what kind of damage a 5-pound bird can do to a GA aircraft. Imagine what would happen if you hit a 14-pound UAV?"
(From AOPA acts to keep unregulated UAV operation out of navigable airspace)

Regional FAA officials contacted the sheriff's department, which agreed to voluntarily abide by the Model Aircraft Operating Standards, which specify that such craft must remain below 400 feet and stay out of pilots's navigable airspace.

This device compares favorably with the Little Bird surveillance UAV that science fiction author Greg Bear wrote about in his 2003 novel Darwin's Children.

Little Bird gave them a series of clear, frozen pictures, at the ends of blurry swoops, the pictures cameoed on the big screens in blue wrapped squares...

The Little Bird had backed off about 50 feet and was hovering. Its little fuel cell would be depleted soon, and it would have to return or be retrieved by the command vehicle.
(Read more about Little Bird)

Learn more about Surveillance in Science Fiction; read more of the story at AOPA acts to keep unregulated UAV operation out of navigable airspace. Found this one on /..

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/29/2006)

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