As the friendly skies become less friendly with commercial, general and military aviation crowding our vertical real estate market in the sky—an alarming number of drone near misses with aircraft point to the inevitability of a collision—especially during low-level departures and landings around major airports.
The vulnerability of an aircraft crashing during takeoffs and landings constitutes approximately 45 percent of all accidents. The proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are predominately used within line-of-sight of the operator, place the majority of potential collisions near to the ground. And while the FAA maintains reduced vertical separation minimums of 1,000 feet between aircraft above standard flight level (FL290), the congested skies around airports and major cities appear to be at a greater risk of collision.
In fact, 23 too-close-for-comfort encounters were reported in the United Kingdom last year, including a near miss of only 82 feet between a drone and a Boeing 777 near London’s Heathrow Airport. To put that into context, a flock of seagulls entering into a jet engine is enough to sometimes bring down a plane; imagine a heavy metal drone entering a jet engine. It’s not a matter of if that will happen—it’s a matter of when that will happen. Add to the mix terrorists or criminals intent on targeting US airports using hobbyist drones and a counter-drone industry is burgeoning.
Read the complete report here.