Despite news reports last week to the contrary, the State of Hawaii is not stuck with a useless remote-controlled drone, at least according to its builder, Paul Schultz, CEO of Hawaii-based Hawaiya Technologies. A spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation had said the $75,000 spent on the HTI-150 UAV, as part of a $1.4 million federal security grant was wasted, because the FAA would never allow the machine to fly in the vicinity of Honolulu International Airport or Hickam AFB for risk of a mid-air collision.
“I have no idea why anyone in state government would say that,” Schultz told AIN. “Our local FAA has always known we’re seeking approval to use the machine, but only during emergencies. We want to use the drone to quickly locate people after a terrorist attack or a natural disaster when normal aircraft might not be able to fly.”
Even though the FAA hasn’t yet approved use of the drone, “it is in the works,” Schultz said. “It is absolutely possible for UAVs to operate safely near other civil air traffic.”
The drone has a sophisticated autopilot capable of flying any preprogrammed flight at about 100 feet agl. And in the event of a loss of direct communications, the drone is programmed to fly home on its own.