Drone near-misses are on the rise and if you think about it, it’s really not that surprising. The drone industry has exploded in the last few years thanks to companies like DJI putting out affordable and easy-to-fly drones on the market for virtually anyone to get their hands on.
Unfortunately, a select group of those who do get their hands on one of these nice, shiny drones – aren’t always the brightest bulbs out there.
According to the FAA, there are more than 100 reports of UAS sightings from pilots, citizens and law enforcement. The agency it’s a trend that is increasing dramatically.
Among the FAA report (that runs from August 2015 to January 2016 in the second of two reports) are several reports by airline pilots of “near misses” with drones.
Last November, a helicopter departing the Children’s Hospital in Saint Louis had to take evasive action with a 60-degree banking turn to avoid a black, four-propeller drone at 1,400 feet altitude.
In another incident in August, a pilot flying at 7,000 feet near JFK airport reported seeing a “black UAS with a purple fin thing” passing by in the opposite direction, a mere 20 feet to the right of the aircraft.
Read both reports from the FAA:
- Reported UAS Sightings (August 2015-January 2016) (MS Excel)
- Reported UAS Sightings (November 2014-August 2015) (MS Excel)
The agency is also working hard to send a message that those who operate drones around airplanes, helicopters and airports are not only doing something very dangerous, it’s illegal. Those without proper exemptions and/or permission to fly in these areas are subject to stiff fines and possible criminal charges – even jail time.
Perhaps you’ve seen the Know Before You Fly campaign the FAA put out to educated newbie (and veteran) pilots as a refresher of the rules of the sky.
It’s no secret that drones will flourish and continue to be explosively popular. The problem is, the near-misses will continue until they start turning into ‘hits’ – which means education is as important as ever for new pilots to learn the how to fly the skies safely.
Image: Donald Cook