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FAA Docs Show Clamor for Domestic Drones

Alarming list of drones for small towns, universities, police released

Common Dreams staff

Police Drone. (Photo: Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has publicly released the names of all public and private entities that have applied for authorizations to fly drones domestically in the US.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) one year ago demanding data on certifications and authorizations the agency has issued for drones in the US.

The list includes both 'surprising' and 'unsurprising' names. To be expected, the list includes organizations such as Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, various branches of the military, defense contractor Raytheon, and various drone manufacturers.

The EFF says that more surprisingly, there were many more universities, police departments, and small towns and counties across the United States on the list than they had anticipated.

As the information provided by the FAA leaves much in the dark, such as how many drones each applicant was granted, the EFF says that it continues to probe for more information and greater transparency from the FAA.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation: FAA Releases Lists of Drone Certificates—Many Questions Left Unanswered

[...] These lists—which include the Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), issued to public entities like police departments, and the Special Airworthiness Certificates (SACs), issued to private drone manufacturers—show for the first time who is authorized to fly drones in the United States.

[...] The COA list includes universities and colleges like Cornell, the University of Colorado, Georgia Tech, and Eastern Gateway Community College, as well as police departments in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Arlington, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Gadsden, Alabama; and Ogden, Utah, to name just a few. The COA list also includes small cities and counties like Otter Tail, Minnesota and Herington, Kansas. The Google map linked above plots out the locations we were able to determine from the lists, and is color coded by whether the authorizations are active, expired or disapproved.

The second list we received includes all the manufacturers that have applied for authorizations to test-fly their drones. This list is less surprising and includes manufacturers like Honeywell, the maker of Miami-Dade's T-Hawk drone; the huge defense contractor Raytheon; and General Atomics, the manufacturer of the Predator drone. This list also includes registration or "N" numbers," serial numbers and model names, so it could be useful for determining when and where these drones are flying. [...]

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Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations. Click here for larger map and addresses.

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