FAA denied university request to operate surveillance drones on campus

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) denied Georgia Tech University’s (GT) 2010 request to operate three surveillance drones in the skies above their campus, reveal documents uncovered late last month.

The FAA denied Georgia Tech University permission to fly the Hornet Micro drone (pictured above) on campus.

University police requested federal permits for the unmanned aircrafts in order to “follow individuals on foot” and “locate threats” in a bid to “lead the world in the use of unmanned aircraft for local law enforcement and commercial use in general.”

A spokesperson for GT, Matt Nagel, confirmed to Campus Reform on Wednesday that the school had “put in a request to get drone capabilities,” but declined to say why campus police needed the drones.

An FAA official denied GT police’s request to operate the drones over their 400-acre campus, citing national security concerns.

“After review of your application, it has been determined that your operation presents an unacceptable high risk to the National Airspace System,” said Steve Pansky, an FAA official, in an email to campus police.

The university had hoped to purchase three Hornet Micro drones from Adaptive Flight, according to the documents, which were initially acquired by a small watchdog group, MuckRock News.

The aircraft, weigh just over two pounds, are described by the manufacturer as “a unique surveillance system designed to support close-range reconnaissance missions during tactical operations in cluttered urban terrain.”

The Hornet Micro also displays real-time high definition video to the operator on the ground, either via a monitor or mobile goggles.

A spokesperson for Adaptive Flight was not immediately available to provide information regarding the cost of the unmanned aircraft to Campus Reform.

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