More drones means more illegal use and the change it’s getting out of control

More drones means more illegal use and the change it’s getting out of control

The number of drone sightings by airplane pilots has “increased dramatically” in the last two years, according to a new report by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA logged 583 separate incidences where planes saw drones flying in restricted airspace between August 2015 and January 2016. That means for all of 2015 there will have been 1,233 drone sightings by planes, as 650 were spotted between January and August 2015.

In all of 2014, there were only 238 of such sightings.

It is illegal to fly consumer drones above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport, but the reports show that message isn’t getting across to users.

There are several instances in the report where the pilot didn’t have to take any evasive action to avoid the drone, as well as a few sightings where it could have been either a drone, bird, or even a weather balloon that the pilot saw. However, there are plenty of frightening close calls listed in the report.

There’s one instance in December where a drone was just 100 feet below a plane flying over Orlando, Florida.

And in November, a helicopter was departing from the St. Louis Children’s Hospital helipad when it saw a drone less than 100 feet away. The helicopter “had to take evasive action with a 60 degree banking turn to avoid the drone,” the report notes.

The FAA made drone registration mandatory on December 21 last year to hold those who fly in restricted air zones accountable and “help protect public safety in the air and on the ground,” but it will take some time to see how effective the program is. More than 406,000 people have registered their drone with the government since the program went into effect.

People are devising creative ways to capture rogue drones flying in restricted areas. For example, a Michigan Tech professor is building a drone that can shoot a net at rogue drones to capture them. The FAA is also working on a new form of technology that can detect and identify drones and pilots flying too close to airports, according to a Motherboard report.

“Enforcement goes hand-in-hand with education, and we will take action against anyone who operates irresponsibly to the full extent of the law,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta wrote in a press release about the drone sightings report.

SOURCE: BUSINESS INSIDER

2 thoughts on “More drones means more illegal use and the change it’s getting out of control

  1. T Hall - March 31, 2016 at 10:38 PM

    Actually this article overstates quite a few things.

    Of the 583 UAS sightings over a dozen were helium birthday balloons. One sighting was of something that looked like a “dog” and a handful were drones on the ground or flying legally in the proper airspace. Two were model rockets and two more were described a kites. One mystery “drone” followed an aircraft at cruising altitude for several miles . (Obviously not a hobby drone)

    While there are quite a number of drones flying where they should not be, only 3 of these “sightings” drew evasive action. In fact the majority are sighting at a significant distance and are questionable at best. Also has anyone else noticed that pilot UFO incidents are not being reported by the FAA? Are these being specilatively lumped into the sightings as well?

    This misinformation does not excuse any flight in the incorrect airspace and obviously there are plenty. However it is also clear the FAA has no problem lumping anything that is unexplained as a “drone” to fuel the fire.

    Of course the press is quick to take the bait and run with it posting several inaccuracies along the way. Sensational headlines make the revenue and telling the full truth takes time and cost money.

    The reality is this probably could easily be avoided with proper regulations of the flight controllers that allow a max ceiling and geofencing with no fly areas. While the FAA legally can’t require this at this time. No one is restricting the FCC from requiring this on flight controllers to “prevent” possible interferance. Several manufacturers are incorporating this right now and with the average lifespan of a drone probably being about 2 years or so then it won’t take long to cycle through the old unrestricted hardware.

  2. Dan Kelley - August 30, 2016 at 9:58 PM

    I attended a WINGS safety seminar at FIT in Melbourne, Florida some years back. The subject was Seeing and Avoiding for both military and civilian pilots. They showed several videos that gave the audience a chance to try and identify aircraft from a higher perspective, looking down from an Cessna 172, as other aircraft flew beneath. Very few audience viewers were able to find any of the lower aircraft among the ground clutter and none identified all the aircraft shown in the reference videos. Now, keep in mind that almost every audience member was already a pilot and they were looking for aircraft with wingspans of around 35ft. and larger. The base color of those sample aircraft were white. Now, imagine how hard it would be trying to find a DJI Phantom, white in color, with a wingspan of maybe 1.5ft and moving a a fraction of a full size aircraft. Darn near impossible as proven by an auditorium full of pilots ranging from student to ATP, both military and civilian. A DJI Phantom against a skyline is even harder to see.

    I have to agree with Mr. Hall, “Of course the press is quick to take the bait and run with it posting several inaccuracies along the way. Sensational headlines make the revenue and telling the full truth takes time and cost money.”

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