Skip to comments.FAA Puts a Leash on Predator [for patrolling the Southern border]
Posted on 05/19/2006 2:59:07 PM PDT by John Jorsett
The U.S. Border Patrol is locked in a major battle with the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) over the use of UAVs. The FAA insists that only UAVs that can see as well as a human pilot can be used within the United States. No UAVs have this capability (as it requires mounting several more vidcams to reproduce the view from a cockpit, and more communications gear to transmit all that data). The FAA believes that the many aircraft (plus gliders and balloons) that are in the air, without transponders, make these "enhanced" (with additional sensors) UAVs a necessity. The FAA has the final word on what is allowed to fly in the United States. For the moment, unenhanced UAVs can only fly in specific zones that have been cleared, via an FAA order, of all aircraft lacking a transponder.
Thus the Border Patrol's sole Predator UAV can only fly a 160x24 kilometer area along the Mexican border. The FAA can move the sector, but this is public knowledge, which lets people smugglers know which areas are being patrolled from the air (with night vision devices). To deal with that problem, the FAA now allows the Border Patrol to file its flight plan an hour before take off, meaning that most smugglers would not get the word and would be more likely to get caught if they moved into an area being observed by the Predators heat sensors.
The Border Patrol is getting a second Predator, and wants to expand its search area to 600x24 kilometer, and get permission for the Predators to fly higher than 14,000 feet. Military UAVs with the enhanced sensors are not expected to be available for another four years. These enhanced sensors are not needed in a combat zone, where the military has the final say over what flies. But the military UAVs are finding themselves increasingly used for law enforcement and purely commercial chores. In these circumstances, the FAA is willing to allow them to fly if the operators can keep them in sight. This is usually possible, but ultimately, the FAA will probably insist on the enhanced sensors for anything flying within its jurisdiction.
The Border Patrol now plans to get around the FAA restrictions by using blimps (aerostats, actually). These would be similar to systems already used in Iraq and Afghanistan. There the RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) blimps float at about a thousand feet, tethered by a cable that provides power and communications to the day and night cameras up there. RAID is vulnerable to ground fire from rifles and machine-guns. Iraqis, in particular, like using the RAID blimps as targets. Rifle fire won't destroy the blimps, but does cause them to be brought down more frequently for repairs. Normally, the blimps can stay up for 30 days at a time, but the bullet hole repairs have some of them coming down every few days. There are surveillance systems similar to RAID, but mounted on 110 foot steel towers. These also suffer gunfire damage, but rarely any that damage the equipment. RAID cannot cover as much ground as a UAV, but it does get around FAA concerns.
There are surveillance systems similar to RAID, but mounted on 110 foot steel towers. These also suffer gunfire damage, but rarely any that damage the equipment.
They don't just shoot at them. A while back, the Border Patrol in Arizona had some guys climb one of the more remote towers and whang the hell out of the camera equipment before the BP could get there.
How much trouble is it to keep commercial flights 20 miles on both sides of the border above 5000 feet?
As an attorney would say, that assumes facts which are not yet in evidence.
Not possible, at least in certain areas. Brown Field, South of San Diego, and Tijuana International are both within a half mile of the border.
LOL. Well stated.
Flying airplanes over the border is pointless. The illegals sneaking across the border don't care if they're being watched. The plane sees someone crossing the border and the border patrol is notified. By the time they get there, the illegals are gone. Planes won't work. It was tried many years ago and it was a complete failure.
Build a wall that spans the border and prevent illegals from getting jobs and social services.
Sounds as if the FAA is looking out for those "commercial flights" that don't file a flight plan. We wouldn't want to interfere with the regular flights coming across the border, would we?
OBVIOUSLY, you are not a pilot who has to fly in the area, are you? FYI, I am not either but I know pilots who do fly in the area FOR VERY LEGITIMATE REASONS!
Don't know about a wall. Watched Greta demonstrate how quickly they can go over a maybe 12-14 ft wall with a rinkydink ladder that is easily carried. Very disappointing to watch. It's the employers who are to blame and that's who LE needs to go after....with a vengeance. So we'll pay more for produce, etc. It can't be as much as we are paying now for social services for the illegals.
Just acouple would send the sufficient message...Of course the libs would have one heck of a tizzy.
Strawman. The fence being proposed bears no resemblance to that surplus landing mat version that Greta was showing. They won't go over the first layer of this fence that quickly, and even if they manage to scale it, the sensors will bring a Border Patrol agent before they can get over the second:
Makes sense, actually. No VFR capability then the UAV must fly IFR. Of course, the FAA could designate border areas as restricted to UAV flights.
"The plane sees someone crossing the border and the border patrol is notified. By the time they get there, the illegals are gone. "
The UAV can stay aloft and loiter over a target for over 24 hours, which is more than enough time to direct assets on the ground to an interception point.
Just FYI, one of the reasons FAA also discontinued Drone flights is because it is also causing a problem for GA pilots (general aviation pilots) whom alot of don't fly IFR (instrument flight rules) and fly below 5000 ft.. the drones wouldn't know how to ID a GA pilot and could cause a collision. I've been following some of this because i'm in the process of getting my GA private pilots license.
Please correct+provide input if needed
The UAV operates under VFR flight rules. It has cameras that the operator uses to see what's out there. It is radio equipped and transponder equipped. When they fly, they are receiving flight advisories from a controller. What the FAA is worried about is the aircraft that is not talking to the controllers, not squawking and not being observant, running into a UAV.