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Feb 13, 2013 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard

Excerpted from The Washington Times: A top official with the Federal Aviation Administration reassured the public on Wednesday that, despite the fear and paranoia of some, no armed drones will be permitted to fly in U.S. airspace.

“We currently have rules in the books that deal with releasing anything from an aircraft, period. Those rules are in place and that would prohibit weapons from being installed on a civil aircraft,” said Jim Williams, head of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, in an address to the drone industry’s leading trade group meeting this week in Northern Virginia.

“We don’t have any plans of changing [those rules] for unmanned aircraft,” Mr. Williams added.

But when pressed on whether drones could, for example, be armed with weapons when patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, Mr. Williams deferred.

“Border patrol is the responsibility of [the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency]. I’ll let them answer that question,” he said.

The FAA has been tasked by Congress to safely integrate drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems, into the national airspace by 2015. Mr. Williams called that complex and difficult task “the biggest challenge we’ve had in aviation in a long time.”

He also compared the emergence of drones to the Wright brothers’ flight and other milestones in aviation history, including the implementation of GPS systems and the invention of the jet engine.

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