It appears unavoidable that a disastrous accident involving a commercial plane with several abroad and a drone is only a thing of time.
The numbers has become more alarming with the British Airways encounter just the tip of the iceberg.
The previous year, in the United Kingdom alone, there was a four-fold increase of close misses to 23 in a six-month span from April to October, with 12 tagged as an important hazard of collision, according to the United Kingdom’s Airprox Board.
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In a five-month period, elapsing January 31 this year, the U.S Federal Aviation Administration made a report that there were 583 close misses between drones and planes, more than three-fold of the number of incidents recorded in 2014.
Also, there are troubling numbers as it seems that drone users are disregarding the worldwide acknowledged rules of not operating above 400 feet and not in a range of five miles of an airport.
The center’s report on the FAA numbers mentioned that “three out of five incidents occurred within five miles of an airport, and nine out of ten incidents above 400 feet.”
From the data, 91.9 percent of the incidents happened above 400 feet within the mean altitude 3,074 feet.
A tiny drone that carries humans?
These numbers are alarming, but they would only get worse as drone purchases rise on the back of lesser sales costs and better ability.
Non-military drones are normally capable of heights up to 6,000 feet and speeds of 50 miles per hour (mph) and they are still being bought in hundreds of thousands.
Unlike the United States, the UK and Australia do not need registration, though both countries have similar rules of prohibiting flying at heights greater than 400 feet and not within five miles of an airport.
While regulators globally are struggling with the new drone thing, accountable manufacturers like China’s DJI have instituted geo-fencing technology into its drones to avoid being flown away into dangerous areas.
Chinese Firm DJI Leads New “‘Drone Age”
DJI has a characteristic geospatial environment online (GEO) that offers drone users with modern direction on locations where flights may be limited by rules or raised safety or security measures. This could comprise forest fires, major stadium events, and VIP travel.
This works well for responsible operators. However, hacks are ready online to work around the limitations for those who defy the rules.
That is the challenge. Without worldwide compulsory registration for owners and strict sanctions, the reckless operator will be a serious problem to aviation.
A lot more, we are witnessing these drones being worked on around important airports.
At New York’s JFK airport in January, a JetBlue A320 pilot reported a close miss with a drone at about 6000 ft.
In September last year, a drone was within 60 feet of a 70-seat EMB170 jet in the skies over the British Houses of Parliament.
Just last month, the captain of Lufthansa A380 super jumbo reported that a drone almost hit his aircraft as it proceeded toward Los Angeles airport. As stated by the FAA, it happened at 5,000 feet, and the drone was within 200 feet.
As air travel doubles over the coming 20 years and drone purchases rises by 30 percent a year, disastrous disputes with irresponsible operators are unavoidable.