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FAA Warns More Drones Are Flying Near Airports (fortune.com) 52

Between February and September of 2016, there were 1,274 reports of drones near airports -- versus just 874 for the same period in 2015, according to newly-released FAA research. "The report detailed more than 1,200 incidents of airplane pilots, law enforcement, air traffic controllers, and U.S. citizens reporting drones flying in places they shouldn't," writes Fortune. An anonymous reader quotes their report: One of takeaway of the report was that while the FAA has received several reports from pilots that drones may have hit their aircraft, the administration was unable to verify any such claim. "Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft," the FAA said in a statement... Although a drone hasn't smashed into an airplane yet, the FAA "wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time," the FAA said.
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FAA Warns More Drones Are Flying Near Airports

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  • If these are 'real' drones or just the latest Unidentified Flying Object. Since there are very few truly unambiguous reports of drone incursions into airspace and virtually no proven drone strikes it is really, really unclear just what this represents.

    More drones flown by idiots? Sure, that's a pretty reasonable interpretation. Good luck trying to fix stupid.

    A new punching bag for anything floating around in the airspace?

    Aliens?

    Personally, I blame Trump. If he can take credit for the National Debt to d

  • While I don't know of any incidents within the US, I have seen at least one case where a drone collision actually occurred:
    http://avherald.com/h?article=... [avherald.com]
    • by dougmc ( 70836 )

      This incident was shown to be a structural failure rather than unmanned aircraft collision. Your link actually says that -- they originally thought it was a drone, but further investigation showed that there was no collision at all, only a structural failure.

      That said, there have been some incidents in the US over the years that have been confirmed/well documented ...

      1990: http://articles.latimes.com/19... [latimes.com]

      2009: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      2015: http://www.suasnews.com/2015/0... [suasnews.com]

      And outside of the US, t

      • by dougmc ( 70836 )

        Ahh nuts, I included the wrong link for my 2015 incident -- that one wasn't confirmed.

        But this one was :

        2011: http://www.suasnews.com/2011/0... [suasnews.com]

        Looks like their link to the video is broken, but here's another copy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        • Ah yes - the pilot who saw a "drone" near the field and *purposely* made a low pass down the runway to threaten the pilot. The model airplane, which had permission from the Airport Manager to be there, was hit by the private pilot who purposefully buzzed the runway with smoke on and at extremely low altitude. There is no protection from dumbass, and the dumbass was the FAA licensed private pilot.

          • by dougmc ( 70836 )

            Yeah, that's pretty much how I interpreted it as well.

            (The bipe pilot turned on his smoke to "increase his visibility to the R/C airplane operators". Uh-huh -- *he was showing off*, and got too close.)

            That said, the FAA's decision was pretty clear -- the collision was the fault of the pilot of the model aircraft. I guess that's the only possible answer given their rules -- showing off is permitted, but hovering where a manned aircraft decides to be is not, permission or not.

      • Good catch, I hadn't re-read it since it was first posted. Thanks!
    • From your own link:

      On Jan 10th 2017 Mozambique's Civil Aviation Authority reported in a press conference in Maputo that they concluded the radome most probably failed as result of a structural failure caused by air flow pressure, contributing factors probably were a defective installation of the radome and inspection of the ribs. A foreign object damage was ruled out. The CAA added, that the radome had been purchased second hand through an American company supplying aircraft parts and components, the radome was installed on the aircraft during major maintenance in South Africa on Jun 27th 2016.

      Notice that there was no collateral damage beyond the radome, which would seem unlikely with a drone strike.

  • Airspace. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grumling ( 94709 ) on Saturday February 25, 2017 @03:39PM (#53930001) Homepage

    Last week I passed my "part 107" certification for commercial sUAS pilot. The main driver for me doing this is because I might someday want to fly in airspace that is off limits to a hobbyist pilot. As a hobbyist, you're required to get permission (good luck with that) to fly within 5 miles of any airport (including heliports and grass strips), and forbidden from flying in controlled airspace. With certification you can fly just about anywhere in class G airspace and there's a process (that will soon get much simpler) to get permission to fly in class B, C, D and E airspace. Now if airmen spot an sUAS under them when flying near an airport that might or might not be a problem. As a practical matter, it isn't a good idea to fly just for the heck of it, but there is certainly permitted activity. And almost all activity is well below the hard 400' AGL limit imposed by the FAA anyway, at least for what most of us want to do with drones.

    That said, the industry should be doing more to educate pilots, especially now that the FAA has set up rules and fines. Just having an EULA-like "I agree to be a good boy" checkbox isn't enough. And I'm not necessarily in favor of drones being sold in big box retailers either. You won't buy a Cessna like you would an Chevy and you shouldn't buy a drone the same way you'd buy an Xbox. Manufacturers need to be held a little more responsible for their products. These things can potentially do a lot of damage (imagine a 15 lb drone crashing through a roof and then the damaged battery shorting out and catching fire). Most of the people I know think that because they're somewhat easy to fly that means they're not dangerous. When they work, they work great. But there's not too many recoverable failure modes and when something goes wrong, they drop out of the sky like an expensive rock.

    • As a hobbyist, you're required to get permission (good luck with that) to fly within 5 miles of any airport (including heliports and grass strips),

      No. As a hobbyist, you are required to notify the airfield. You don't have to ask permission. You can send them a letter saying you're going to be flying out of a particular area frequently, too, so you don't have to notify them every time. Some airports have actually set up webpages so that you can notify them with a web form, e.g. Watsonville. I guess if you can get certification, I ought to get off my ass and get it as well.

      • Aww, did I hurt someone's poor wittwe feewings? Probably a pilot, huh? As an AMA member in good standing who actually reads his copies of Model Aviation I know that one doesn't know what one is talking about when one claims that you have to ask permission to fly within five miles of an airport. The AMA requires members to notify an airport if they wish to operate a model above 400' AGL when within 3 miles of an airport. The law requires all UAS pilots (registered or not) to notify an airport when operating

        • by grumling ( 94709 )

          Actually no. I went out and engaged in another activity other than sitting in front of my PC all day.

          Since you know everything, go ahead and call over to KDEN and let them know that you'll be flying for a few hours near the Mt Elbert shuttle lot. But make sure they know that you're flying as a hobbyist so that it's all OK.

          The rules changed last August for everyone, not just commercial guys.

          • Actually no. I went out and engaged in another activity other than sitting in front of my PC all day.

            I didn't actually imply that I hurt your feelings. But clearly I insulted someone.

            The rules changed last August for everyone, not just commercial guys.

            Yeah, that's when the AMA published this information. Last August.

    • I'm not necessarily in favor of drones being sold in big box retailers either. These things can potentially do a lot of damage (imagine a 15 lb drone crashing through a roof

      That's hilarious. The larger size quadcopters sold by big box retailers are closer 15 OUNCES, not 15 POUNDS. The biggest I found was 38 ounces (1000 grams). When I mess up with my quad, it *can* damage some leaves. A hobby drone crash through a roof? I doubt it would crash through a piece of paper. I may test that to see.

      If you actu

      • by grumling ( 94709 )

        Target sells the Phantom 3 and Parrot drones. Best Buy sells DJI and Yuneec drones. All of which are more than .55 pounds.

        • Yes, those are the bigger drones sold in big box stores. You mentioned Parrot as an example - I'm guessing you had the Parrot AR 2.0 in mind (Parrot also makes much smaller ones). That's still under a pound, of plastic. Not 15 pounds of steel or anything that would even damage a shingle, much less "crash through a roof".

  • Idiots fly drones near airports. Don't be an idiot.
  • The FAA must be referring only to incidents in the U.S. Here's a video of a drone striking the winglet of a commercial airliner, and I can only assume it happened outside the U.S.; I don't recognize the city in the background.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    It's the first clip, the strike happens at about 30s. Scary.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's a video by the author of how he created this "drone strike video."
      https://youtu.be/GS3nb4bwHKQ

  • If there were no documented collisions of a quadcopter and an airplane, why not to try to create it. For example, a flying DJI Phantom with the weight 1.2 kg and an airplane wing moving on rails. And see what happens. The FAA colleagues could do it first, and then print 700 pages regulations.

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