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Wed, Jun 24, 2009

North Little Rock Police Department UAV Crashes During Training

It's Another Setback For A Beleagured Program

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,"

FMI: www.faa.gov

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