Army Wants UAVs In U.S. Airspace
The FAA needs to move more quickly to develop rules that would allow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the National Airspace System, according to U.S. Army Col. Don Hazelwood. Speaking at a recent conference about UAVs in Orlando, Fla., Hazelwood said the technology is quickly improving, accident rates are down, and the unmanned systems are proving their safety and utility under extreme conditions in Iraq. Critical missions such as finding lost children and fighting forest fires could benefit from UAV deployment now, he said. The FAA should set a goal to integrate the aircraft into the NAS within two years, he said, according to flightglobal.com. Hazelwood acknowledged that UAV safety and reliability still needs work. "We will modify our aircraft that fail, we will fix them, we will certify them, and we will fly them in the national airspace. I think the goal of two years is do-able," he said. By 2011 the Army expects to be operating more than 10,000 UAVs worldwide. About 1,200 now are in operation, most of them in the Middle East.