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Transportation Technology

U.S. Passenger Jet Nearly Collided With Drone In March 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the lining-up-our-next-aerial-disaster dept.
SonicSpike sends word of an FAA report that a small, remote-controlled aircraft was nearly struck by an American Airlines passenger jet as the jet was preparing to land. The pilot saw it briefly as he flew by — it was close enough that he was sure it stuck the plane, but no damage was found upon inspection. Jim Williams, head of the FAA's drone office, said the incident highlights the risk of ubiquitous, unregulated drone use. He said, "The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real. The results could be catastrophic." The article notes that the FAA "currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted. Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses."
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U.S. Passenger Jet Nearly Collided With Drone In March

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  • by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:42PM (#46970395)

    While there are certainly some people who will hold this up as an example why hobbyist drone flying should be banned, it just looks like a case of existing laws being broken. Am I believe there is not already rules governing the airspace immediately around airports? I'm sure there is, and I'm sure this person was violating those rules as they stand. So new laws against drone flying aren't going to have any effect on the outcome.

    Secondly: The idea this drone could be pulled into the engine of a commercial aircraft with "catastrophic" results... and how is this any different than a large bird being pulled into the engine of an aircraft? If the sudden loss of a single engine from what should be an accidental interaction with a drone is all it takes to cause something "catastrophic" from happen, maybe the airplane needs to be designed better. If it's not accidental, but intentional (terrorism) then all the laws in the books aren't going to prevent it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:44PM (#46970411)

    And that's related to this... how?
    The "drone" in question was a plain old R/C model plane. Flown by a plain old idiot. In plain old restricted airspace. Which is already all sorts of plain old illegal.

  • Re:Drone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:50PM (#46970427)

    Simple.
    "Fucktards keep flying R/C planes and choppers in restricted airspace, just like they have been doing for decades" won't get many views/clicks.

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:16AM (#46970685)

    Because these days they usually are. A drone is an aircraft of any size that can be flown unmanned, autonomously without human control, or remotely without line of sight.

    These days MOST cheap model craft fit that description. You can get a model plane to fly remotely using FPV out of line of sight for a cool sub $250. You can get a model plane to fly autonomously for under $400.

    You fail to realise just how much the small hobby equipment has caught up with it's military counterparts.

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:31AM (#46970725)

    Secondly: The idea this drone could be pulled into the engine of a commercial aircraft with "catastrophic" results... and how is this any different than a large bird being pulled into the engine of an aircraft? If the sudden loss of a single engine from what should be an accidental interaction with a drone is all it takes to cause something "catastrophic" from happen, maybe the airplane needs to be designed better. If it's not accidental, but intentional (terrorism) then all the laws in the books aren't going to prevent it.

    Large birds crunch up quite well when hit with a sharp blade. Bird strikes are quite common and there's a few good videos on youtube showing bird ingestion tests on turbines with partially frozen birds, so something quite a bit harder than a typical pigeon. Throwing a piece of aluminium with a few weighted magnets into an engine on the other hand is quite a different problem to deal with.

    Secondly you seem to be under the assumption that bird strikes are just shrugged off, the reality is airports employ a lot of resources to do wildlife control in like training predators (dogs, cats, falcons etc), or using sirens, or knocking down nests, etc to reduce the number of potential bird-strikes around airports, and it really only is a problem close to the ground as birds don't fly at 30000ft.

    Thirdly "catastrophic" does not mean loss of plane. An emergency landing and a passenger jet out of action due to a downed engine is considered "catastrophic" failure. It doesn't need to kill someone.

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