U.S. report: 241 near collisions between drones, manned aircraft

WASHINGTON -- There have been at least 241 reports of close encounters between drones and manned aircraft that meet the government's definition of a near midair collision, including 28 in which pilots manoeuvred to get out of the way, according to a report released Friday.

See Full Article

Ninety of the close encounters involved drones and commercial jets, the majority of which had the capacity to carry 50 people or more.

Two aircraft must fly within 500 feet of each to meet the Federal Aviation Administration's definition of a near midair collision. In 51 of the incidents, the drone-to-aircraft proximity was 50 feet or less, according to the report by Bard College's Center for the Study of the Drone in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York.

The report is based on an analysis of government records detailing 921 incidents involving drones and manned aircraft between Dec. 17, 2013, and Sept. 12, 2015. Researchers cautioned that when flying at high speeds it can be difficult for a pilot to judge the distance between themselves and another object.

The majority of the incidents, 64.5 per cent, were sightings of drones in the vicinity of other aircraft with no immediate threat of collision.

The FAA has previously released data on reports of drone sightings, but the Bard report is the first comprehensive analysis of the sightings by researchers outside the aviation community. Its findings are likely to fuel more debate over how much of a threat drones are to manned aircraft as the government struggles with how to reap the benefits of unmanned aircraft without undermining safety.

Most of the sightings analyzed in the report occurred within 5 miles of an airport and at altitudes higher than 400 feet even though the FAA prohibits flying most drones near airports or over 400 feet.

The locations with the most incidents were New York/Newark, New Jersey, 86; Los Angeles, 39; Miami, 24; Chicago, 20; Boston, 20; San Jose, 19; Washington, DC, 19; Atlanta, 17; Seattle, 17; San Diego, 14; Orlando, 13; Houston, 12; Portland, Oregon, 12; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, 11, and Denver, 10.

There have been no confirmed collisions between drones and manned aircraft in the U.S. thus far. Government and industry officials have expressed concern that if a drone -- much like a bird -- is sucked into an aircraft engine, smashes a cockpit windshield or damages a critical aircraft surface area, it could cause an air crash.

"With sufficient speed, bird strikes have been known to penetrate the cockpit," the report said. "It's entirely possible, then, that a drone could also break through into a cockpit, potentially causing serious harm to the pilots or other occupants."

Helicopter blades are considered especially vulnerable. Thirty-eight of the near collisions identified by researchers involved helicopters.

Aircraft engine manufacturers currently test the ability of engines to withstand bird strikes by firing dead birds at the engines at high velocities. The FAA hasn't yet said when it will require engine makers to conduct tests with drones, but officials have unofficially acknowledged they are working on the issue, the report said.

The report cited research by engineers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, that used data on bird strikes to create computer simulations of drones striking planes in order to identify the riskiest impact locations. They concluded that hobby drones weighing between 2 and 6 pounds "can potentially cause critical damage."

The FAA is in the process of finalizing rules for the use of commercial drones weighing less than 5 pounds. The agency is also expected to shortly issue rules requiring the registration of small drones, including those used by hobbyists, in an effort to help create a "culture of responsibility" among drone operators. The agency is trying to get the registration rules in place before Christmas.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google said Friday it would stop scanning the contents of Gmail users' inboxes for ad targeting, moving to end a practice that has fueled privacy concerns since the free email service was launched. A Google statement said Gmail users would still see "personalized" ads and marketing messages but these would be based on other data, which may include search queries or browsing habits. Source
  • It's worth the drive to totality: perspectives from an eclipse chaser: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    August 21st is going to be an insane day across the United States as millions of people gather along a thin line that stretches from coast to coast to watch the moon pass directly in front of the sun in a total solar eclipse. Source
  • Dutch invent phone app to stop kids texting on bikes

    Tech & Science CTV News
    In the bike-mad Netherlands, the national phone company is developing a smart way to stop kids texting while cycling -- a growing cause of teenage accidents. A new app from phone company KPN will block internet and phone signals to a cyclist's smartphone while they are in the saddle. Source
  • Facebook launches plan to combat online extremism

    Tech & Science CTV News
    U.S. social media giant Facebook launched a campaign in Britain on Friday to counter the spread of online extremism following warnings from Prime Minister Theresa May after four terror attacks in three months. Facebook said it would seek to educate charities and other organisations on how to fight hate speech, in the wake of recent terror attacks in Belgium, Britain and France. Source
  • Live Asian carp discovered near Lake Michigan

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- A live Asian carp has been discovered in a Chicago waterway about nine miles from Lake Michigan -- well beyond an electric barrier network designed to prevent the invasive fish that have infested the Mississippi River system from reaching the Great Lakes, officials said Friday. Source
  • B.C. woman can file class-action lawsuit against Facebook: Supreme Court

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says a woman who wants to sue Facebook over its use of “sponsored stories” can pursue her case in British Columbia. Deborah Douez wants to file a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant over a now-defunct advertising format, which allegedly used her name and profile photo in ads endorsing a company for which she had clicked the “Like” button. Source
  • Is Tesla getting into the streaming music business?

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Electric carmaker Tesla said Thursday it was considering ways to enter music streaming amid a report it may launch a unique new service. The high-end carmaker, which already has a tie-up with streaming leader Spotify in some international markets, said it was aiming at ways to please drivers. Source
  • Solar eclipse in August raising worries about Ontario's power grid

    Tech & Science CTV News
    An astronomical delight this summer is going to pose a terrestrial problem. Operators of Ontario’s power grid are bracing for a sharp drop in electricity generated by solar panels during a summer solar eclipse coming Aug. Source
  • Total solar eclipse casts spotlight on rural Oregon town

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MADRAS, Ore. -- Just before sunrise, there's typically nothing atop Round Butte but the whistle of the wind and a panoramic view of Oregon's second-highest peak glowing pink in the faint light. But on Aug. Source
  • Japan zoo releases gender of star panda

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO - The baby panda, who has become an overnight celebrity in Japan, is a girl. Tokyo's Ueno Zoo said Friday the panda, born June 12, was ruled a female by examining experts. The still nameless cub has been doing well, drinking mother ShinShin's milk. Source