The UAV purchased by the North Little Rock Police Department
last year suffered a software failure and crashed during a training
flight Saturday. The Argenta News reports the remotely-piloted
helicopter similar to the one pictured in the file photo
below was pretty badly damaged, and had to go back to the
factory in South Carolina for repairs.
North Little Rock is the only U.S. city with a temporary permit
from the FAA to test a UAV for police work, thought they are
commonly used by the military in theater. Critics of the program
have called the UAV a "white elephant", and an "$80,000 toy". The
police department was preparing to apply to the FAA for a permit to
use the UAV over populated areas, which may now be in jeopardy
given the nature of the crash. Critics also complained that the UAV
required a crew of 4 officers to operate.
ANN reported earlier this month that the FAA had issued a ban on
such remotely piloted vehicles in the U.S. At the time, FAA's Les
Dorr said UAV's are not yet reliable enough for operation in U.S.
airspace. "There is nothing to our knowledge and no UAS (Unmanned
Air System) technology at this time that would allow unmanned
aircraft to meet the same 'see and avoid' standard that manned
aircraft have to operate under," he told the online
publication Digital Communities. "Pilots must maintain
vigilance during flight to avoid other pilots within their air
space by constantly scanning for other aircraft,"