As Washington expands its drone strikes in Pakistan, the number of civilians killed in the attacks keeps rising. Hundreds of people have died since 2004 and critics say the program only helps fuel the conflict and creates new militants rather than eliminating them.
FAA under pressure to open US skies to drones
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...
... 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."
"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."
Drone Attack Report: 1 in 3 Killed By Drones In Pakistan Is A Civilian
edit on 28-2-2011 by alaskan because: (no reason given)