State Police Testing Unmanned Aircraft System to Support Public Safety

The Michigan State Police (MSP) is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to become one of the first police agencies in the nation to obtain statewide authorization to fly an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to support public safety efforts.

In Sept. 2013, the MSP purchased an Aeryon SkyRanger with an eye on the future potential of this technology to support law enforcement missions. This device was selected because of its high rating in the federal Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) survey. This survey evaluated different systems for safety, capability and reliability. Since that time, the MSP has worked closely with the FAA to meet all safety and training requirements, as well as to develop policies and procedures for the safe and effective implementation of this equipment.

In Feb. 2014, the MSP received a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA to conduct training flights with the UAS near the MSP Training Academy.

A site visit with the FAA is scheduled in the near future to review the MSP’s request for authorization to fly the Aeryon SkyRanger for law enforcement support missions statewide. Potential missions include search and rescue, crime scene and crash investigations.

MSP policy dictates the UAS is always flown by a two-person crew, with one acting as the pilot and the other as a safety observer. The FAA certified pilot has received specific training from the manufacturer in the safe operation of the Aeryon SkyRanger. The device must remain below 400 feet and always be within line of sight of the crew. Many additional safety factors are included with the design of the device.