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

  • Common genetic trait links human and doggy friendliness

    Tech & Science CBC News
    We may be more like our dogs than we know. Scientists studying the genetic basis for dog friendliness have found it comes from a portion of their genome that is similar to the area in the human genome that relates to sociability. Source
  • Man says he punched grizzly bear in the nose in B.C.

    Tech & Science CTV News
    QUALICUM BEACH, B.C. - A British Columbia man's beachcombing trip turned into a harrowing fight for survival as a grizzly bear flailed him around "like a puppet." Fifty-seven-year-old Randal Warnock says he had been walking on the beach on Brown Island on B.C. Source
  • 'Mystery' signal from space is solved; it's not aliens

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Astronomers have finally solved the mystery of peculiar signals coming from a nearby star, a story that sparked intense public speculation this week that perhaps, finally, alien life had been found. It hasn't. The signal, which has been formally named "Weird!" was interference from a distant satellite. Source
  • Possible melted fuel seen for first time at Fukushima plant

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- An underwater robot captured images of solidified lava-like rocks Friday inside a damaged reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, spotting for the first time what is believed to be nuclear fuel that melted six years ago. Source
  • North Atlantic right whale to be examined on N.B. island

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MISCOU ISLAND, N.B. -- Marine mammal experts will examine another North Atlantic right whale today after it was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal Fisheries Department says the necropsy is being conducted near the Miscou Island Lighthouse on the northern tip of Miscou Island, N.B. Source
  • Elephant seals have rhythm and they know how to use it

    Tech & Science CBC News
    New research published in the journal Current Biology finds that elephant seals identify one another by the rhythm in their calls, much the way humans can discern accents and vocal tone. Previously there was no recorded example of a non-human mammal that could remember and recognize a wide range of rhythms. Source
  • Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong sold for $1.8 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction on Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. Source
  • Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong sold for US$1.8 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction on Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. Source
  • China announces goal to dominate AI field by 2030

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- China’s government has announced a goal of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence in just over a decade, putting political muscle behind growing investment by Chinese companies in developing self-driving cars and other advances. Source
  • Cops wage psychological warfare against online drug bazaars

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HOUSTON - In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace - then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. AlphaBay, formerly the internet's largest darknet site, had already gone offline July 5 with the arrest in Thailand of its alleged creator and administrator. Source