Skip to comments.FAA restrictions bar wider use of drones to patrol border
Posted on 11/30/2005 4:02:36 PM PST by DumpsterDiver
President Bush wants unmanned drones used along the U.S.-Mexican border as part of his broader immigration initiative unveiled this week, but border patrol officials are still negotiating with the Federal Aviation Administration about where and when it can deploy the systems.
"We're going to use drones to be able to help enforce the border in rural Texas and in rural New Mexico and rural Arizona," Bush said Tuesday. "Slowly, but surely, technology is being employed up and down the border, and that's a key part of our strategy." The president's proposal also includes a guestworker program and bolstering immigration laws.
After more than two years of negotiations, the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Customs and Border Protection Directorate recently finalized a deal with the FAA to fly one drone in the Tucson, Ariz., area.
CBP also issued an environmental impact study in September that helps clear the way for an expansion of UAV operations from the western corner of Arizona to the eastern corner of Texas, but the agency still needs to work out a deal with the FAA to fly the drones outside restricted military airspace. Because of the restrictions, CBP officials have been forced to deploy a fleet of Blackhawk helicopters to patrol the rest of the southern border.
A CBP spokesman said Wednesday that the agency has recently received the "green light" to buy its second UAV early next year and plans to deploy the drone in the Tucson area until CBP and FAA officials reach additional agreements.
"We have to talk and ask for permission, but FAA is very strict," he said. "We're looking at what we can do to get exemptions" from FAA regulations or maximize the requirements set by FAA for UAVs.
Lawmakers this year repeatedly called on the Homeland Security Department to buy UAVs for border security after the successful conclusion of a trial program in Arizona. The department signed an initial contract in September with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to buy its first UAV and support services for $14 million.
The second UAV is expected to cost half that amount, and the agency could spend up to $59 million for four UAVs under the contract, said the spokesman. Congress provided $10 million for the agency's UAV program in the recently enacted fiscal 2006 Homeland Security appropriations measure.
"Ideally, with UAVs, the focus is to create a virtual curtain of air detection," said the spokesman about deploying the drones from Arizona to Texas.
The agency argues the drones provide significant financial savings compared to operating and maintaining its fleet of helicopters. The agency spends $4,000 every time it launches a Blackhawk and must pay additional labor costs.
The drones, called "Predator B," have the capacity to fly 30 consecutive hours without refueling at 230 miles per hour and over remote land border areas. The UAVs are equipped with electro-optic sensors, radar and infrared cameras and can immediately and automatically transfer images to ground controls.
Well isn't that convenient.
"Nero fiddled, we do environmental impact studies."
God forbid we take actions protect our country without conducting an ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY first!!
What has our country come to?
Somebody might get hurt.
Try again. And this time, try to be a little more warm and fuzzy.
"Bureaucrat rules prohibit wider use of drones to patrol border"
...with no change in meaning.
Simple, declare the border to be restricted military airspace, at least below say 5,000 feet. That way the legitimate airliners and private aircraft could cross the border with ease, the drones would have their space to fly in, and the folks coming in low to avoid the ground based radars, could be blown out of the sky with impunity.
There would have to be accommodations made for aircraft arriving and departing from fields within the border zone, but that's done already where such exist within otherwise restricted airspace.
The President also needs to tell the Transportation Secretary to fire the FAA administrator. On second thought, the President should just fire them both. Norm Minetta hasn't been anything to brag about in the Secretary job either.
we don't need drones there. balloons or small blimps with camers would be a lot cheaper and probably just as good.
This is unfrickin believable.
Bush was quoted as saying, "Slowly, but surely, technology is being employed up and down the border, and that's a key part of our strategy."
I wonder if he knew just how slow going things would be? It's time to kick some butt.
If Pres. Bush wants them there they will be there.
I doubt that very much. If Bush was serious about dealing with the border it would have been delt with long ago.
Bush doesn't want the borders closed or policed. One need only look at his inaction and lunatic amnesty ideas.
I know it takes an act of God to get an FAA waiver to conduct UAV flights off of a military installation and into Class E airspace, even with the use of chase aircraft, backup ground control stations, operating in existing MOAs and posting NOTAMs. It's frikkin' madness.
58 milion for 4 drones and many times that for manpower
required to operate them. we can do a much better job with
a lot less money. Here is a simple way to do a better job
much cheaper. build a 100 ft tower every mile along the
border and equip each with a webcam and satellite internet
capability for controlling and observing. hire people to
sit in their studies, back porches, or whereever to watch
the cameras over the internet. one person should be easily
capable of watching and controlling 8 cameras. they can call in anything that looks suspicious. test them at random to see if they miss anything that they should have
reported. if so, fire them, no second chances.
here is my bid for the operation:
build 4000 towers and equip them at $5000 per 20,000,000
500 manhours x 24 x 365 x $20 per hour 87,600,000
annual maintenance on towers and webcams 2,000,000
profit and overhead 21,400,000
total bid for first year 130,000,000
if this contract doesn't make me filthy rich, i will sell tower space to cellphone companies and wireless internet to locals to make whatever additional money i need.
oh, what the hell, might as well round the bid off to an even billion. a paltry sum i'm sure compared to whatever piss-poor method the govt will put into play.
Obviously, the government does not want patrolling to be effective.
But they will never do the one thing which would be both cheap and effective--because they want the border open, no matter what lies they spin.