FAA OKs Drones For Texas Border

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The FAA has approved a Certification of Authorization (COA) for an unmanned aerial vehicle to patrol a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border extending from Arizona to the El Paso region of Texas effective June 1. This is one of two COAs that have been submitted to the FAA seeking approval for UAV flights along the Texas-Mexico border. "This is very good news for Texas, as we seek to provide additional security measures along the Rio Grande in light of escalated border violence," said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, of Texas, who lobbied for the approval. "However, more needs to be done. I will continue to push for the second pending COA when I meet with FAA Administrator [Randy Babbitt] on May 20." The second approval would allow UAV flights along the rest of the Texas border, from El Paso to Corpus Christi. According to Cuellar, the FAA expressed concern about mixing the drones with heavy aircraft traffic, both private and commercial, in the Texas border region.

Three drones are already used along the border in Arizona. Several others are deployed for border patrols in North Dakota and Florida. Officials at Customs and Border Protection have said they intend to deploy the unmanned vehicles along the entire U.S. border by 2015.