Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why don't we fly away....

Here's something else I didn't know via James van Etten's excellent weekly Flight Times newsletter. The US has closed the US/Mexico border to private aircraft for a year.
General aviation groups are concerned about a year-long temporary flight restriction (TFR) that came into effect along the US border with Mexico on 24 January to prevent collisions with unmanned air vehicles on surveillance missions.

The 550km (300nm)-long, 30km-wide corridor along the US-Mexico border in Arizona and New Mexico is associated with use of the General Atomics Predator B unmanned aircraft by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agency took delivery of its first Predator in September and has exercised an option for a second to be delivered by mid-year.
Think about that folks. We've got Predator aircraft patrolling US civilian airspace. Thinking back to the armed patrols in NOLA last September, obstensibly for security from looters but who were confiscating civilian firearms, it's beginning to look more like Baghdad here everyday isn't it?

They're calling it a temporary measure, but it's expected to be renewed at expiration. The rub is, if they call it temporary, they don't need to have a public comment period to enact it, as they would if they admitted it was meant to be permanent. I'm all for border security but this goes a too far, especially as it's being done, behind our backs so to speak.
Use of a “temporary” large-scale flight restriction for year-long UAV operations is “not appropriate”, says the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “It’s unacceptable to cordon off large areas of civilian airspace just because a UAV can’t detect and avoid other aircraft,” says Andy Cebula, executive vice-president of government affairs.
Amen. It's just one more way to control the civilian population.
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