Tags: drones | airlines | close calls | FAA

Drone Close Calls With Airliners Surged in 2015

Image: Drone Close Calls With Airliners Surged in 2015

By    |   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2016 09:32 AM

Reports of errant drones flouting U.S. regulations including flying too close to passenger airliners and other aircraft surged late last year to an average of four incidents per day, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

The 1,200 incident reports in 2015 were more than five times the 236 the FAA recorded a year earlier when it first began compiling the data.

The FAA is trying to combat this problem through educational initiatives, including a drone registry that was introduced last December.

An estimated seven million drones will fly in US skies by 2020, nearly tripling the number expected to be in circulation by the end of the year, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.

"Unmanned aircraft systems will be the most dynamic growth sector within aviation," the agency said in a report, which forecast that some 2.5 drones million will be in use by the end of 2016.

A drone came within 200 feet of hitting a Lufthansa jet near Los Angeles International Airport on Friday — the latest run-in between aircraft and the increasingly popular unmanned flyers.

The pilot of a Lufthansa A380 approaching the airport on a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, reported that a drone passed about overhead around 1:30 p.m., said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was flying at 5,000 feet and was about 14 miles east of the airport, over the heavily populated suburbs of Los Angeles. It landed safely.

"This is one more incident that could have brought down an airliner, and it's completely unacceptable. A near-miss of 200 feet should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by reckless drone use," Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement.

The California Democrat introduced legislation last year that would require the FAA to create rules about where and how high drones could fly and to require the aircraft to have safety features such as collision-avoidance software.

How the civilian drone market evolves will depend on future security and regulatory measures put in place by the US government, the FAA said, emphasizing that "unprecedented milestones" were already set in 2015.

In December of last year, the FAA released rules requiring registration of small unmanned aircraft weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 pounds) and less than 25 kilograms (55 pounds), including payloads such as on-board cameras.

"This registration rule will aid in investigations and allow the FAA to gather data," the agency said in its report.

The number of hobby drones is expected to climb from 1.9 million in 2016 to 4.3 million in 2020, while commercial drones are predicted to soar from 600,000 to 2.7 million.

However, the FAA added that predictions for commercial drones "are more difficult to develop given the dynamic, quickly-evolving nature of the market."

The FAA will publish final regulations regarding drone use within the next few months, it said.

The agency worked with Teal Group, a drone industry expert, to better understand the market for unmanned aircraft systems.

An estimated 90 percent of the drone fleet in 2020 will cost an average of $2,500. The most expensive models may reach $40,000.

Material from Reuters, AFP and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Reports of errant drones flouting U.S. regulations including flying too close to passenger airliners and other aircraft surged late last year to an average of four incidents per day, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.
drones, airlines, close calls, FAA
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2016-32-29
Tuesday, 29 Mar 2016 09:32 AM
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