Honeywell Gains Rare License to Fly Aerial Drones
By Stew Magnuson
The Federal Aviation Administration granted an experimental airworthiness certificate to Honeywell International to fly its ducted fan unmanned aerial vehicle in national airspace.
The FAA has been notoriously stingy in granting such licenses in the past. Honeywell’s gasoline powered micro air vehicle is only the fifth to receive such a designation. The agency is responsible for ensuring the national airspace is safe, and is concerned that a pilotless vehicle could cause a deadly accident.
Experimental UAVs are allowed to fly in restricted airspaces such as military bases, but are rarely allowed to venture outside their perimeters.
The wingless UAV has already seen action in Iraq with the Army, according to Honeywell, and was developed under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program.
The license will allow the Miami/Dade County Police Department to conduct law enforcement experiments with the vehicle.
The UAV community has long complained about the slow pace of progress for allowing UAVs to operate in the national airspace. The FAA has countered that collision avoidance systems are not yet advanced enough.