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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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  • Drone? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:26PM (#46970341)

    If you read the stories on this carefully, you find out that it was a model of an F4 Phantom, not a copter type "drone" that we think of now.

    Why is it that everything that flies now and doesn't have a pilot is called a drone and is a major new concern, even if it's been around for decades?

    • 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 jklovanc (1603149)

        The difference now being that with the advent of cheap cameras and video controllers these aircraft can be much further away from the operator than ever before.

      • They require notice, so the pilot can be informed of any localized special concerns, such as "this is an airport, stay away".
    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      The only thing in the article about what type of RC aircraft is as follows;

      The pilot reported seeing a small, remote-control aircraft very close to his plane

      It was at 2,300 feet and about five miles from the airport when it encountered the remote controlled jet.

      How do you get F4 Phantom from that? There are many remote controlled jets [google.ca] out there that are not F4 Phantoms.

      not a copter type "drone" that we think of now.

      That may be your definition but many people, including me, define drone as any aircraft controlled outside of line of sight. The line of site being the dividing line between RC aircraft and drone.

      • From: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com] - "The pilot said it appeared the drone was a high-end model built to look like a fighter jet and powered with a small turbine engine, according to the FAA. Such model planes are capable of reaching higher altitudes than drone copters and may cost thousands of dollars. "

        • Yeah, I know, replying to my own post...

          Another article: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/09/... [cnn.com]

          "The pilot reported that the small unmanned aircraft involved looked similar to an F-4 Phantom jet, and not like a helicopter that might hold a camera that many associate more closely with drones. Such planes have gas turbine engines and can fly higher than an average drone, according to the FAA. Neither the drone in this case, nor its pilot, have been identified.

          Why does the media insist in calling everything from model airplanes to 747's "drones". I think they're the real (mental) drones...

          • 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 sabri (584428)

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

              Yeah, and only if the owners of that gear would be responsible in using it. I nearly hit something flying at 3500ft over Palo Alto on a Bay Tour last week. I reported it to Norcal Approach, but there was not much they could do.

              What angers me about that is that these idiots fly their toys in class B airspace without caring much about the people that are actually in the air. If I make a mistake, I die. If they make a mistake, I die.

              • by mysidia (191772)

                What angers me about that is that these idiots fly their toys in class B airspace without caring much about the people that are actually in the air. If I make a mistake, I die. If they make a mistake, I die.

                There's the problem.... they don't have any consequences.

                The FAA should get off their butts and require licensing for drone pilots, safety testing for autonomous drones, and setup the technical and administrative requirements to require they document their flights, meet flight information recording

                • The FAA should get off their butts and require licensing for drone pilots

                  But ... but ... the constitution. And freedom!

                • by sjames (1099)

                  Or they could listen for R/C signals within restricted airspace. There's no reason a kid in the middle of nowhere Kansas should have to be licensed to fly a 'drone' in the back 40. There's no reason a kid should need a license to operate a toy plane in his own yard.

                  • by mysidia (191772)

                    There's no reason a kid in the middle of nowhere Kansas should have to be licensed to fly a 'drone' in the back 40. There's no reason a kid should need a license to operate a toy plane in his own yard.

                    Sure thing.

                    How about this, then: Drone operators must be licensed pilots, except when operating a toy aircraft below 1000 feet, within the boundaries of private property, from which the drone operator is domiciled or whose owner has given express prior written consent, or within the boundaries of public p

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      Surely you left out volume 12, chapter 32, section 5, sub section A, subsection 32/j line 5 of the 2013 edition where it clearly states that the warranty is void where prohibited unless you have written permission of major league baseball witnessed by a moose, a bear (except for polar bears unles on an alternate tuesday after a full moon during a rain storm) and an antelope.

                      Or we could just stick with don't fly near the airport.

                    • by mysidia (191772)

                      Or we could just stick with don't fly near the airport.

                      However don't fly anywhere without a license "except in this limited special case" or with specific permission from property owners whose land your drone is infringing upon. Provides much better public safety.

                      The 'nowhere near an airport' restriction does not do anything to address safety issues to craft flying over populated areas, in case of making sure the operator can be identified to be held responsible in case of damage, injury, or deaths,

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      There has been 1 or 2 notable incidents since the invention of R/C planes half a century ago, period. And it amounted to nothing at that. Further, it is covered under existing law, it just wasn't enforced. Might as well licence the use of a can opener (which, unlike this, has actually resulted in injuries requiring medical treatment).

                      The problem with regulating and licensing everything is that you eventually need a lawyer just to walk in the park. I am certainly not opposed to regulation in general, I just

                    • by mysidia (191772)

                      Might as well licence the use of a can opener (which, unlike this, has actually resulted in injuries requiring medical treatment).

                      The difference is this: if you misuse a can opener, you can cut your finger.

                      If you fly your drone recklessly, you can crash into a window causing thousands of dollars in damage. You can crash a person on the ground, and it can kill them.

                      Your drone can crash into a vehicle on the roadway, causing an accident, resulting in multiple deaths.

                      Your drone could crash into an airp

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      And yet, in 50 years there has been 2 notable incidents. Unlike the can opener. Or, for instancwe the lawnmower. Shall we licence lawnmowers? They can throw debris quite far and cause injuries to others. Or chainsaws? We had an idiot in the neighborhood knock power out for a day when he didn't look before he cut. Live wires on the ground and everything.

                      What about kites? I have flown kites quite high before. I even had to take evasive action once when a small plane was nearby (I was flying from the top of a

                    • by mysidia (191772)

                      Shall we licence lawnmowers?

                      Operating a lawnmower safely doesn't require special skills.

                      Meanwhile, A license isn't terribly heavy, I'm sure it won't do much to slow someone down if they choose to run away if something bad happens.

                      There will be a limited number of people who have filed flight plans to take their drone up in the sky that day, so there is a much better chance of identifying you, if you do run. It will be easy to verify the other people in the area can account for the whereabouts of their

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      So now it's tagging and registering too. And what will you now propose to make sure the person who did it was actually licensed and actually bothered to file a flight plan. How many years in the slam do you propose for unlawful possession of a common child's toy?

                  • by k8to (9046)

                    Toys don't need cameras or autonomous flight features. Seems like a good line to draw.

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      To what end? Why is the line needed or useful?

                      I could see the potential need for further restrictions on where it can be flown beyond line of sight or autonomously but that's about the limit of it.

          • by mpe (36238)
            Why does the media insist in calling everything from model airplanes to 747's "drones". I think they're the real (mental) drones...

            Probably the same reason they insist of refering to "The pilot" when any airliner has at least two pilots. (QF32 actually had five pilots...)
    • Re:Drone? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tysonedwards (969693) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:55PM (#46970463)
      Because thanks to the Terminator movies and the US Air Force's use of the term "drone", the populous now emotionally associates a drone as a fucking scary autonomous killing machine; a Model Airplane... not so much. A UAV, still nothing... So, the thought of some anonymous twenty-something kid going around and flying their own "drones" and nearly killing hundreds of people will resonate emotionally with people and help to create the state of fear that is being fostered by those in power to control the masses.

      It doesn't matter that this act is no different than those over the past forty years, nor that it is no different than what damage that can be caused by a bird.

      Plus, if said kid's name was even vaguely ethnic or could be made to sound ethnic, do you think that it would still be kept "confidential" or would it be trotted out in the court of public opinion as a "Towel-Headed, 'Murica Hatin' Muslim Terr'rist!"?
    • Because the phrase drone is scary. It invokes imagery of the military's drones, of weddings bombed and people dead. So instead of calling things RC aircraft like they used to people can call them drones, thereby scaring people and getting page views (and thus money) or political influence.

      Personally, I think the definition of "drone" should be restricted to aircraft with a remote pilot (or no pilot) capable of some fully autonomous operation. So while a 747 has an autopilot it's not a drone because it has a
    • by raymorris (2726007) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:04AM (#46970505)

      To me at least, the primary distinctions between a model aircraft and a drone are a) autopilot of some type (or very good telemetry for remote piloting) and b) range / flight time.

      Model aircraft are flown by watching them from the ground. Drones are flown POV through on-board cameras and generally some autopilot capabilities.
        Model aircraft typically have the capacity to fly for 10 minutes or so. Drones, an hour or more.

      Drones, here defined as remotely piloted or preprogrammed aircraft with a flight time longer than twelve minutes, have not been widely available for decades.

      In this particular case, the actual object has not been identified. We only have the report of the jet pilot who saw it. That report does say it was at 2,300 feet from the ground. That means nobody was looking up at it and flying it, in all probability. That altitude strongly suggests it was either following a preprogrammed flight path or was being flown from an onboard video feed.

      Since an RC operator wouldn't be looking straight up at it, but would need be looking up at less than a 45 degree angle, someone flying it by remote control would have been a mile away. You can't look at a model a mile away and see whether the wings are level, or what the pitch attitude is. Therefore, it's rather unlikely that this was an RC model.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        To me the distinction between a model aircraft and a drone is that one can be remotely controlled at range and the other sits on the bookshelf or a tether.

        This really shouldn't be up to discussion, all the major dictionaries define pilot-less remote controlled aircraft as drones providing they can be flown out of line of sight, and the Cambridge dictionary defines it as any remote control aircraft.

        If you want to complain about the use of the word drone maybe you should work on getting the dictionary definit

        • > all the major dictionaries

          Oxford is probably the most respected dictionary of English and it doesn't use that definition.

          > providing they can be flown out of line of sight

          A paper airplane can fly around the corner beyond line of site, so by "flown" you must mean "controlled". Control beyond line of site requires the telemetry mentioned in my working definition.

          I think you'd also agree that an object that includes a full programmable autopilot, that can be programmed to fly past certain GPS waypoints

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            Oxford is probably the most respected dictionary of English and it doesn't use that definition.

            From Oxforddictioinaries.com:

            drone
            Pronunciation: /dr(slashdotsuckssomuchatthis)n /
            NOUN
            4. A remote-controlled pilotless aircraft or missile.

            When I said all the major dictionaries I not only meant it I also checked it. None of the dictionaries require autonomy for an aircraft to be considered a drone, and some of the more strict interpretations only require being able to be flown out of line of sight.

            Like it or not, according to the dictionaries the media is using the term correctly.

            • Thegarbz said:
              all the major dictionaries define pilot-less remote controlled aircraft as drones providing they can be flown out of line of sight

              Then he said:
              4. A remote-controlled pilotless aircraft or missile.

              Notice Oxford doesn't say anything about line of sight. Indeed, they make no distinction between a typical RC toy and a drone. Therefore, their definition is not useful. If you're talking about remote-control toys, you say "toy plane".* To call a cheap toy a "drone" is misleading.

              What you'r

              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                So your argument is the dictionary is wrong? Then complain about the dictionary and not about the media using the word.

                I admire your attempt to save your argument though. You've gone from ignore all dictionaries, Oxford is the respected one, to Oxford isn't useful and therefor ignore their view on the language.

                As some point you're going to need to pick a side and it may help to see if that side follows your point of view before you move on. That and your definition of "expensive" I think is a few years out

                • From that comment I take it you've changed your mind and decided that Oxford is correct and comprehensive? Because it doesn't say what you claimed "all dictionaries x say. American Heritage doesn't either.

                  If so, I guess you've also decided that all fruits are apples, because Oxford says apple is a fruit.

                  • by thegarbz (1787294)

                    Quite the opposite, you're the one who decided on picking one well respected dictionary. I wrote:

                    all major dictionaries

                    Quite a bit different isn't it. Feel free to go look up the Cambridge dictionary, or the Collins dictionary, heck even the Australian Macquarie dictionary defines drone the same way.

                    As for the comparison between an apple and a fruit. You don't seem to understand words do you? When you compare a noun and a noun it follows they are either synonyms or subsets of groups. When you compare adjective-adjective-adjectiv

      • by mpe (36238)
        In this particular case, the actual object has not been identified.

        In which case it might better be described as a "UFO". But then many people, who don't know what the term actually means, would jump wrong, and silly, conclusions.
    • Re:Drone? (Score:4, Informative)

      by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:20AM (#46970693)

      Why is it that everything that flies now and doesn't have a pilot is called a drone and is a major new concern, even if it's been around for decades?

      a) Because things that fly remote control that don't have a pilot ARE "drones" according to both the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries

      b) Because they have been around for decades in the hands of dedicated enthusiasts, and not in the hands of every idiot with a spare $200 that can't think it may not be a good idea to fly this right next to an airport.

    • by cshotton (46965)

      The problem is that for a long time, radio controlled aircraft have been somewhat of an esoteric hobby and the people involved formed much more of a community, with self-policing through organizations like the Academy of Model Aeronautics. You used to have to spend weeks or months, carefully crafting the aircraft, installing engines, controls, adjusting, tweaking, and then hopefully flying and not crashing in front of your friends on a Saturday afternoon. The AMA provided strict guidelines for operations ne

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      because its still technically a drone.
      drone is not limited to octo or quad copters.
      drone is not limited to autonomous devices.
      R/C = drone = UAV

  • there should be liability requirements for commercial use and rules so you can't hide from it with all kinds of subcontractors

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Most RC enthusiasts know not to fly such a craft anywhere near an airport. General rule of thumb is 1000ft of clearance in each direction.

      • Most RC enthusiasts know not to fly such a craft anywhere near an airport. General rule of thumb is 1000ft of clearance in each direction.

        The problem is these things are getting much better and much cheaper and much more accessible.

        1000' horizontal clearance isn't much use if you thing has a service ceiling of 8000'.

        The thing is in the past anything in that range would be so specialised that the sort of person to buy it would be deeply versed in all the rules and knowledge operations. These days, they're s

        • 1000' horizontal clearance isn't much use if you thing has a service ceiling of 8000'.

          I think when he said "in each direction" the other one was up.

      • by Alioth (221270)

        And no more than 400 feet up.

  • 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 jklovanc (1603149)

      So new laws against drone flying aren't going to have any effect on the outcome.

      One new law could be a requiremet to register and display aircraft numbers on all non-line of site controlled aircraft. That way the owner can be identified if the aircraft is photographed of found after a collision. They may also be required to carry a small transponder. It is not about banning them but regulating them. Right now the regulations are very weak.

      how is this any different than a large bird being pulled into the engine of an aircraft?

      Birds generally don't carry lithium ion batteries that can act like a small bomb going off inside the engine. Also the body of the bird is generally

      • by sjames (1099)

        It doesn't matter. A bird is all it takes to take the engine out. The rest is just overkill.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          There is a huge difference between a bird which stops and engine and a drone with a lithium battery which can explode in the engine causing much more damage. That damage could break turbine fins which could take out fuel lines and puncture fuel tanks which could cause a major explosion or fire and take off the wing. In the case of the bird, no engine. In the case of the drone, no wing. Most aircraft can land with one engine out. Most aircraft fall out of the sky if they only have one wing. See the differenc

          • by sjames (1099)

            Lithium batteries pack a punch, but not nearly as much as you seem to believe.

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              It is the cascade effect of breaking a few blades which then take out the rest of them. The initial explosion won't take out the wing but the breakage of most of the turbine blades and subsequent hot flying metal might.

          • by dywolf (2673597)

            no no no.
            there is no difference between bird strike and drone strike. you are severly ignorant here.

            birds dont just "stop" and engine, while drones blow up planes.

            first off, the bird gets shredded. it becomes ground meat.
            second, because of the speeds at whicj jet engines spin, if any of the vanes get bent (and even a bird strike can do that), the turbine can very quickly become unbalanced, and tear itself apart. potentially the pieces could puncture the wing, fuel tanks, even the fuselage.

            which is exactly t

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:11AM (#46970535) Journal

      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.

      "Catastrophic" refers to the failure mode of the engine, not necessarily to the consequences for the airplane.
      More specifically, it refers to any type of failure which prevents the engine from running or being restarted.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      Knowing what the government is capable of (Gulf of Tonkin incident and others), I'm wondering how unlikely it would be for the FAA to have sent one of their own or someone from another 3 letter agency in the government out with an RC plane and purposely flew it in a manner to create this situation just for the purpose of justifying their stance on drones.

      I mean it's an RC plane being called a drone, it's breaking the law that already exists, and the article is talking about regulations the FCC is working on

      • by guises (2423402)

        Knowing what the government is capable of (Gulf of Tonkin incident and others), I'm wondering how unlikely it would be for the FAA to have sent one of their own or someone from another 3 letter agency in the government out with an RC plane and purposely flew it in a manner to create this situation just for the purpose of justifying their stance on drones.

        Pretty dang unlikely. We're not talking about anything that really has much at all to do with national security, or anything that will make a politician look good, or anything that will make some rich person or large company a little more money, so concocting a conspiracy theory for this seems a little far fetched.

    • 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.

      • by mpe (36238) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:00PM (#46973009)
        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.

        The size of the "bird" is not always the important factor in how much damage can be done to a jet engine. Trying to run with an unbalanced fan and ingesting broken pieces of fan blades can often be what actually destroys the engine. Note that minced bird is just as incompressable as metal fragments if gets into the compressor stage.
        Even birds much smaller than pigeons can be a serious problem. Especially since birds, especially small ones, tend to occur in flocks. A flock bigger than aircraft means the potential loss of all engines.

        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

        They can't do much outside the airport though. Also predators need to be trained/handled not to become a problem themselves. (Even some humans appear to have problems with "Don't stand in front of a jet engine when big flashing lights are on,)

        and it really only is a problem close to the ground as birds don't fly at 30000ft.

        The highest recorded bird strike was at FL379. Migrating birds have also been found at quite high altitudes. The rule is that bird strikes can happen at any altitude.

        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.

        Most recent would be N828AW this Friday. Even N106US, same airline, same departure airport, similar aircraft, disn't kill anyone.
        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          You're arguing semantics. No airports don't do bird control outside their boundaries, and yes bird strikes happen at altitude. Yet both are rare.

          You've found one case a bird strike for migratory birds? Well there have been 90+ bird strikes reported by airports within their airspace in the 3 major cities on the Australian east cost this year. There are many orders of magnitude difference in the risks around the airport compared to outside airport controlled space.

      • by sjames (1099)

        So the real problem is terrorists with trained pigeons.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      your comments abuot the plane should be deisgned better show your ignorance on the subject.

      a jet enginee spins at tens of thousands of rpm. it is a very precisely tuned and balanced machine, with internal tolerances of 0.000001" and less (no I'm not exaggerating, I calibrate the measurement devices they use). anything that gets sucked into the engine will shred the engine, causing turbine vanes to warp, bend, and tear to pieces from suddenly being unbalanced at 50000rpm. and yes, losing an engine IS a big d

    • by Alioth (221270)

      Birds don't and can't know any better. (Also birds are quite good at dodging aircraft, that's why there are so few bird strikes). However people flying RC or drones should know better and can predict ahead of time that if their drone goes into a turbine engine, it could end up hurting a lot of people, and so should be able to reign in their wants to fly drones where manned aircraft tend to fly.

      Also birds aren't full of metal and carbon fibre and lithium batteries. The stuff a bird is made of is less likely

  • "a small, remote-controlled aircraft was nearly struck by an American Airlines passenger jet "

    In what way is it correct to say the AA jet nearly struck the RC aircraft and not the other way around? The jet was where it was supposed to be, doing what it was supposed to do. The RC aircraft was the one out of place so it should be considered the offending craft.

  • Why do commercial airliners have implicit ownership of the airspace? Until recently there's been no practical obstacle to this, but with cheap RC planes becoming available, the democratization of the lower few thousand feet is inevitable.

    • by tompaulco (629533) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:44AM (#46970607) Homepage Journal

      Why do commercial airliners have implicit ownership of the airspace?

      They don't. In the U.S., the people own the air and the FAA makes sure that it is used safely.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Planes can't just stop, and with RC aircraft becoming bigger and bigger they can cause serious damage of a liner if they get sucked into an engine. It's why pretty much every responsible club has strict rules on where they can hold flights; one of the biggest being not anywhere near an airport.

      Just like with cars, the users are the ones responsible for their craft; a pilot wouldn't be able to see an RC craft, and if he did it'd be too late.

    • by Calydor (739835)

      Because they carry several hundred people at any given time, probably.

    • They dont. You can get your own private plane and use the airspace if you want to. The pilot has to be licensed to fly and the plane certified, apart from that nothing is preventing you from sharing the air space. Pilot-less RC planes on the other hand are a different topic.

      • by w_dragon (1802458) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:01AM (#46971391)
        Actually, if you want to fly an ultralight aircraft and keep it below 1000ft you may not even need the license or certification, depending on where you are.
        • by dywolf (2673597)

          in the US ultralights are regged under FAR 103 (http://www.ultralighthomepage.com/FAR.part103.html).

          no license required, VFR only, stay out of clouds, below 1200 feet, dont fly over cities/neighborhoods, stay out of controlled airspace, and avoiding other aircraft is your responsibility.

          also, to qualify as an ultralight, there are restriction on the craft itself: 1 occupant, empty weight 250lbs or less (excluding safety equipment and floats; 150 lbs if unpowered), maximum fuel capacity 5 gals, maximum speed

    • by w_dragon (1802458)
      They don't. If you're away from populated centers there is still plenty of uncontrolled airspace around. But if you're near an airport then the massive jet carrying hundreds of passengers performing the most dangerous part of the flight with proper clearance damn well has right of way over anything else.
    • by Alioth (221270)

      They don't own the airspace. Generally ATC in the US works on the principle of "first come first served". You can fly a small single engine Cessna 150 in the same airspace as the airliner. If you're on an IFR flight plan and call ATC before the airliner, guess what, you get to go before the airliner. But since where the incident happened is probably in class B airspace, you have certain minimum standards that you have to meet:

      - you must be at least a certificated private pilot or student pilot with a signof

  • "Jim Williams, head of the FAA's drone office, said the incident highlights the risk of ubiquitous, unregulated drone use."

    Flying that close to an airport is already against FAA rules. Regulations, which already exist on that, won't change the fact that it might occasionally happen that (as another poster said) some fucktard will fly in restricted airspace.

    As it stands now, we have overregulated drone rules.

    • How close to the airport was it?

      The summary says "As the plane was PREPARING to land."

      Well, what the hell does THAT mean? Was the landing gear down and locked, or did the flight attendants just tell everyone to put their seatbacks in the full upright position? That could be a difference of 100 miles. How far away from the airport do you have to be in order to fly a drone?
      • by w_dragon (1802458)
        You need to be out of the controlled airspace for the airport. Or you need to have ATC approval for where you are. Same as every other plane in controlled airspace.
    • by dywolf (2673597)

      no we dont, you do not know what you're talking about.
      you are conflating existing general rules with specific-to-drone rules
      they are still creating rules specifically for drones.
      we've had at least TWO OTHER topics about this in the past month, and i keep covering the same ground cause people dont bother to read the actual regulations.

  • Considering the size and mass of these drones, comparing to toughness of other airborne objects, and comparing the amount of emotions they arouse...

    why is existence of birds still legal?

  • When I parked my car the other day, I briefly saw an old lady - it was close enough that I was sure it stuck to the car, but no damage was found upon inspection. I propose a ban on old ladies.
  • Really, what are the chances of "accidentally" flying a drone into a commercial airliner? Is it more or less than the chances of a blind man "accidentally" sniping someone 700 meters away?

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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