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FAA: Alarming Rates of Near Misses Between Planes, Drones

FAA: Alarming Rates of Near Misses Between Planes, Drones
(Wire services)

By    |   Friday, 21 August 2015 01:41 PM

The Federal Aviation Administration has revealed that the number of near misses between aircraft and drones has escalated sharply in the last year.

According to The Washington Post, on Sunday alone there were 12 episodes of small drones interfering with airplanes or coming too close to airports. The incidents spanned the country from California to Washington, Chicago, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina, opening a new chapter of challenges in the skies.

A boom in sales of small, largely unregulated remote-control aircraft is behind the newly flooded airspace, creating air traffic control problems and near misses. There were more than 70 close calls with small drones since August, and 700 incidents so far this year. That's triple the recorded number of 2014, according to the Post.

The episodes are raising levels of concern at the FAA, while the Secret Service is also facing new challenges.

In March, the Secret Service reported that a rogue drone was hovering near a golf course where the president was playing.

And in April, military aircraft were forced to intercept a drone that was flying in the vicinity of the White House.

The agency has said it "has procedures and protocols in place to address these situations when they occur," according to the Post.

Officials are reportedly growing concerned about the possibility of terrorists using small drones, and the Department of Homeland Security said it had recorded over 500 incidents since 2012 in which unauthorized drones have hovered over "sensitive sites and critical installations."

The information from the FAA also indicates that military aircraft flying near U.S. bases or in restricted areas have also had close calls with drones on at least a dozen occasions, the Post said.

Meanwhile, pilots are often seeing drones at altitudes previously unheard of, according to the Post, some at 10,000 feet or higher.

To date there have not been any reported midair collisions, but in many cases pilots said drones flew within 500 feet of their plane and they usually had no time to react.
Small aircraft in particular are at risk given they often fly at lower altitudes.

Though most drones are small and weigh just a few pounds, the potential for disaster is high if they collide with a propeller or windshield or get sucked into a jet engine, according to the Post.

New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said that "the number of near misses is astounding" and that it would be "only a matter of time" before a crash happens, the Post reported. Schumer plans to introduce a bill requiring manufacturers of drones to install technology to prevent them from flying above 500 feet, near airports or in sensitive airspace.

"Every day without this law increases the chances that a bad accident will occur," he said, according to the Post.

Meanwhile, the FAA has been considering new regulations on the sale of drones, CBS News reported.

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The Federal Aviation Administration has revealed that the number of near misses between aircraft and drones has escalated sharply in the last year.
FAA, drones, planes, misses, collision, terrorism
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2015-41-21
Friday, 21 August 2015 01:41 PM
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