In L.A., They're Already Here

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The Los Angeles area has some of the busiest airspace in the world, so when reports began to surface that the Sheriff's Department was evaluating a four-pound UAV to use for surveillance, pilots quickly raised an alarm. Staff at AOPA rang the FAA, and the FAA quickly made it clear to the sheriff that as a public operator, a certificate of authorization and an experimental airworthiness certificate would be required to fly a UAV, regardless of size, in the National Airspace System. Those are the same rules that apply to the larger UAVs being flown by the military and Department of Homeland Security. But the case is not closed. AOPA says it will meet with FAA officials about UAV concerns later this month, and will continue to work on the issue as part of an advisory group that is developing guidance and procedures for UAV operations nationwide. As for the L.A. UAV, AOPA says the sheriff told the FAA they wouldn't fly the aircraft anywhere above Los Angeles County.