Growing Acceptance

Civil authorities are showing greater willingness to accept the use of remotely piloted aircraft over populated areas, especially in a crisis, according to Ed Walby, Northrop Grumman director of business development for high-altitude, long-endurance systems. No Predator or other RPA-type aircraft were permitted to fly over the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in 2005, Walby told reporters Tuesday during a company press conference in Washington, D.C. However, during the 2007-08 wildfires in California, it took “only three days” to get civil permission to fly Global Hawk to help firefighters. And permission was granted in just 24 hours for RPAs to support the humanitarian-assistance activities in Haiti after a powerful earthquake struck there in January, he said. (For more press conference coverage, see Almost 160 and Counting below, as well as Global Hawk Partnerships and A Very Large Cruise Missile.)