Pressure builds for civilian drone flights at home

February 26, 2012 - 11:05 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Heads up: Drones are going mainstream.

Unmanned military aircraft have tracked and killed terrorists in the Middle East and Asia. Their civilian cousins are now in demand by police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird's-eye view that's too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get.

Along with the enthusiasm, there are qualms.

Drones overhead could invade people's privacy. The government worries they could collide with passenger planes or come crashing down to the ground.

Despite that, pressure is building to give drones the same access as manned aircraft to the sky at home.

The Federal Aviation Administration must write rules allowing civilian and military drones to fly in civilian airspace by September 2015.