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FAA grants Arlington Police Department permission to fly UAVs

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March 19, 2013

Two Leptron Avenger UAVs will be used by the Arlington PD from April 2013

Two Leptron Avenger UAVs will be used by the Arlington PD from April 2013

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The police department in Arlington can now use new tools in support of public safety over the Texas urban community – two small helicopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted permission for the Arlington police to fly these unmanned aircraft under certain circumstances: they must fly under 400 feet, only in the daytime, be in sight of the operator and a safety observer, and be in contact with the control tower at the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth airport – one of the busiest in the country.

Arlington is situated midway between Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas, and is already famous as the home of the Dallas Cowboys football and the Texas Rangers baseball teams, who have their stadiums side-by-side near the Six Flags over Texas theme park. Two years ago this complex played host to the Superbowl, when over 103,000 fans attended this single event. With scenarios like this, you can understand this police department wanting to be prepared for any contingency and two years ago Arlington was one of the first police departments to begin training with small helicopter UAVs.

The UAV in question is the Leptron Avenger, made in Utah by Leptron Industrial Helicopters. They are about 5 feet long and can stay aloft on battery power for about an hour. The Arlington Police originally acquired its first UAV with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to support security for the Superbowl.

Sgt. Christopher Cook, representative of the Arlington Police department, stated that the small helos will only be used in situations that a manned helicopter would be used, and will not be used for police pursuits or for traffic enforcement. Typical uses might be to take crime scene photos from above, or to look for a missing person.

Leptron Avenger UAVs

“We basically have permission to operate our small helicopter program in certain areas of the City, generally south of Interstate Highway 30, once a clearly defined incident perimeter has been established," says Sgt. Cook. "We are working with our local airports which have airspace within the confines of the City of Arlington to create letters of agreement so there will be a seamless transition once a decision is made to deploy the equipment.”

Arlington Police Department is one of more than 80 entities that have so far applied to the FAA for permission to fly drones in U.S. airspace. The Arlington UAV deployment is significant because Arlington is a major urban area with a large population, and it contains one of the nation’s busiest airports – Dallas Fort Worth International. Arlington is also home to two other small airports, and the main Bell Helicopter factory.

Sources: Arlington Police Department, Leptron via Dallas Morning News.

About the Author
Francis X Govers III Francis Govers is the designer of over 20 land, sea, air and space vehicles and teaches robotics and the design of self-driving cars. He spent 10 years at NASA, helped design the International Space Station, participated in the DARPA Grand Challenge, and managed the only Zeppelin operating in the US. As a commercial pilot, writer, artist, musician, engineer, race car nut and designer, Francis has a serious addiction to building things that frequently gets him into trouble.   All articles by Francis X Govers III
10 Comments

Without a doubt these will eventually be used for other things than described. The police force has a history of introducing new crime fighting methods, that they promise will only be used a certain way than eventually when everybody forgets he promise, they begin implementing it in other ways. I don't mind that they create new ways to fight crime, that's just a logical progression as the people committing crimes become more advanced but I don't like the way they lie to achieve their eventual goals. This is in reference to the Australian police force but I am assuming America is very similar.

nickyhansard
19th March, 2013 @ 09:26 pm PDT

finding missing persons with a RC, that's fresh!

Michiel Mitchell
20th March, 2013 @ 12:43 am PDT

The most tree-hugging benefits of UAV's are flaunted, but it's based on seeking the enemy amongst citizens. The tougher it gets, the more fuzzy the discrimination between citizen and enemy.

Threesixty
20th March, 2013 @ 04:32 am PDT

If we made breaking the law painful less people would break it, but since we are afraid of hurting someones feelings. We have created a society that lives off the inadequacies of the legal system.

So the police struggle to keep the boat afloat, and law abiding citizens pay the price!

This rant is brought to you by :frustrated citizen in sunny California.

Where bums have more protection than the working class

Tito
20th March, 2013 @ 11:06 am PDT

We have never needed permission to fly model airplanes at low altitudes as far as I know. A police department asking permission just might be a wedge used to establish precedent so that private drones fall under public control. I hope not. Large condo complexes could make good use of drones for security as could ranches and large farms or just large areas of private property. As long as they are altitude restricted I see no problem at all with police drones or private drones. Even finding a lost dog might be easy with a drone at your command.

Jim Sadler
20th March, 2013 @ 12:29 pm PDT

Just wait till they start issuing speeding tickets from video captured from these drones. Wow, its sad how we have so lost our trust in our police but too many revenue streams masquerading as public safety and too many SWAT teams turning up at innocent peoples homes have turned me a bit sour.

Rann Xeroxx
20th March, 2013 @ 07:36 pm PDT

Couldn't say I blame the police in Baton Rouge if they choose to use drones, you can hear people popping off rounds at police helicopters during fly-overs. A 5' drone crashing in a congested area would certainly do less damage than a full-sized copter. I have my own issues with law enforcement and I fear this is a tool that could be easily misused.

mambeaux
24th March, 2013 @ 09:22 pm PDT

There will soon be a new and exciting sport for city dwellers ... drone swatting! If drug pushers and 'gangsters' openly carry glocks or worse, a quick-assembly buckshot firing weapon should be very popular. I wonder if the fairly recent innovation of proximity fused explosive tipped larger bullets has filtered down to this non-armed-forces level yet?

The Skud
24th March, 2013 @ 09:46 pm PDT

All these whiners commenting about loosing rights and privacy. Quit breaking the friggin law! There, problem solved.

Mark Murdock
25th March, 2013 @ 08:38 am PDT

Is that twin 30caliber gun barrels I see.....:)

Tom Swift
4th April, 2013 @ 03:21 pm PDT
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