miércoles, 13 de marzo de 2013

Arlington police get federal go-ahead to fly unmanned helicopters across city

Two remote-control helicopters could be photographing crime scenes and searching for missing people in Arlington as soon as next month. Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson announced Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration has given the city permission to get the wheels moving on this project in late February. Police are quick to emphasize that these 4- to 5-foot-long aircraft aren’t the same as military drones: “They’re unmanned aircraft,” Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Richard said. The unmanned craft, which can fly at speeds up to 40 mph, are intended as a more affordable alternative to traditional police helicopters usually employed in search missions. Arlington police also hope to use the helicopters as part of their terrorist response plan. Once the two aircraft are operational, they will still be under very tight control. Similar aircraft have been tested in other large cities, including Houston and Miami, but the FAA is very strict about issuing approvals for live deployment. While the agency doesn’t disclose information about which cities have certificates of authorization, FAA spokesman Les Dorr told the Star-Telegram that 327 such certificates have been issued. (Read more)