Congress considering expanding the use of drones

Jimmy Skaaland, Staff Writer

 

                Congress has just recently passed a bill that will now allow the military, police, and even civilians to fly unmanned aircrafts inside United States airspace.  These aircrafts, commonly referred to as drones, were used by the military to spy on suspected terrorists without detection with cameras they are equipped with.  They have all types of uses including remote sensing, search and rescue, exploration, border patrol, surveillance, transport, scientific research,  and missile capabilities.  As of right now only the military is being allowed to use them in selected airspace to determine if commercial use would become hazardous to planes. 

 

                Many people have reservations about allowing the use of drones on our homefront and the worries are for all types of reasons.  Some feel that the police will use this technology to spy on citizens unjustly and will use the high-powered cameras and infrared sensing capabilities to see into people’s homes.  The police say that there is no worry for a Big Brother aspect because it will still need warrants to spy and that if you aren’t breaking any laws you have nothing to fear.   Despite that many law enforcement agencies have inquired about getting drones that can do more than just record video and audio but can also be armed with nonlethal ammunition.   Another concern is over what type of qualifications will be required to fly such aircraft, and it appears that it will be more than just a basic private pilot’s license.  This is because if one were to be sucked up by an airliner’s engine it would take out that entire engine and if one were to hit a small plane, it could potentially cause the plane to crash.

 

                There are also many benefits to allowing the use of these drones.  For one it could save taxpayers thousands of dollars by greatly eliminating the need for police helicopters, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy and thousands more in fuel per use where as some drones would cost about as much as a standard patrol car and almost nothing to fly.   They also have the ability to fly in any type of weather or condition without putting the life of the pilot on the line.   Drones are far from being common use in our skies but the public’s opinion on them may direct whether they ever will be or not.