Unmanned Vehicle Cleared To Share Air With You

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The first FAA authorization to routinely fly an unmanned aircraft within the National Airspace System (NAS) was recently granted to the U.S. Air Force. The military will use this sign-off to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which was widely used in Afghanistan and the recent war in Iraq. The new Certificate of Authorization (COA) allows it to be used throughout the NAS in a new homeland defense role. The certificate is the first national COA granted for an unmanned air vehicle system. Of course, the Global Hawk had previously flown in the NAS but on a restricted basis, while testing for its new domestic role. Now with the advent of mode "S" transponders, precision altitude and navigation equipment, and UHF/VHF voice relay radios, the unmanned aircraft will reportedly integrate and communicate with air traffic control and even file and fly its own IFR flight plans.