Miami-Dade Police Department Special Patrol Bureau / Aviation Unit Micro Air Vehicle “MAV” Program

• • The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Program commenced in 2009. The MDPD Aviation Unit (AU) worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop the MAV program, and after much planning, training, and policy development, the FAA awarded a Certificate of Authorization “COA” to the MDPD AU in June 2011. The COA award advanced the MAV program from a trial/training phase, to operational status. The first COA became effective July 1, 2011. The current COA was renewed in December 2012 and it has an expiration date of December 2014. The MAV fleet consists of two Honeywell Corporation T-Hawk model aircrafts (one purchased air vehicle and one leased air vehicle). The cost of the purchased aircraft was paid for through a Department of Justice grant and the cost of the leased aircraft was paid for by the MDPD, at a total price of one dollar. The purpose of the program is to utilize the aircrafts as a law enforcement tool, capable of being implemented as needed, during critical and tactical police responses, in furtherance of public safety and the law enforcement mission. The program is managed by the MDPD AU and has an operational policy that only allows licensed police aircraft pilots to operate the aircrafts. The MDPD was the first law enforcement agency in the country (as informed by the FAA) to have an operational MAV program. The MAV program is regulated by the FAA through the strict parameters of the COA, setting policy that regulates flight/use of the drones. Limitations include, flight altitude limits of 300 feet, only operating the aircraft within line of sight of the pilot, restricting aircraft flight to daytime hours, and prohibiting use over crowds, high-rise downtown buildings, and Class B airspace (point of note- the MDPD is working with the FAA to lessen the time-of-day and airspace restrictions that currently hinder the capabilities of the program). Since the inception of the MAV program, the MDPD has yet to fly the aircraft in an actual incident (only one incident deployment has been effected {December 2012} involving an armed barricaded subject scene, but no flight time occurred). However, the MAV remains a valuable tool that is available to the Department, in furtherance of public safety and the law enforcement mission. Additional inquires about the aircraft should be referred to the manufacturer, and inquires about flight regulations/restrictions should be referred to the FAA.

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Last updated: January 8, 2013

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