FAA Grounds $75,000 Surveillance Drone Due to Crowded Skies

The state of Hawaii spent $75,000 to purchase a drone to conduct aerial surveillance over Honolulu Harbor, but the aircraft has been sitting in storage since it was delivered last year because authorities have been prohibited from flying it.

The Federal Aviation Administration refused to give the state permission to fly the device over the harbor. The FAA told the state the drone could not be deployed in airspace near the Honolulu International Airport and Hickam Air Force Base because the skies were too crowded, according to the Hawaii Reporter.

“It works, we’re maintaining it, but we just can’t fly it,” Harbors Division administrator Davis Yogi told the Reporter.

The state bought the unmanned drone in November 2010 before bothering to check with the FAA to get approval to fly the aircraft, and only sought permission after the local newspaper began inquiring if authorities had secured a certificate of authorization to fly the device over the harbor.

The drone, which is equipped with a high-tech camera to scan and track ground activity, was part of a $2 million Honolulu and Maui harbor security system that was financed with $1.4 million in federal grants and $900,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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