Pilotless Aircraft Approved for Texas Airspace

Beginning next month, more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will patrol portions of the U.S.-Mexican border from Arizona to the El Paso area of Texas. Three of the remotely piloted aircraft are already flying and the FAA approved a certificate of authorization (COA) for the expanded flights. A second COA is pending approval, championed in part by Texas congressman Henry Cuellar, who cites a ramp up in border violence as the reason for approving the surveillance flights. Approval of the second COA would enable UAV flights over the remainder of the Texas border — extending to the Gulf Coast. U.S. Customs and Border Protection intends to cover all borders with the flights by 2015. Click here to read Lane Wallace's story about unmanned aircraft systems as seen in Flying.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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