Huge Increase Seen in Close Encounters between Drones and U.S. Aircraft

Sunday, August 16, 2015
(photo: RC Drones, YouTube)

More drones in U.S. skies means that they’re sharing space with manned aircraft—and coming a little too close for comfort in some cases.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that there have been more than 650 reports by pilots of drones flying near their aircraft so far this year. That’s a huge increase from the 238 such incidents reported in all of 2014.


“It’s a startling number,” Steve Marks, a Miami aviation lawyer, told USA Today. “It’s going to exacerbate an already dangerous situation.” On August 9, four crews flying airliners into Newark’s international airport reported seeing drones at between 2,000 and 3,000 feet of altitude.


Drone sightings have even led officials to ground firefighting aircraft. In June, drones were spotted at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet near a fire in California’s San Bernardino Mountains. One drone came within 500 feet of airplanes and operations were temporarily halted.


The FAA has levied fines against drone operators and has more open cases, the agency reported.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Irresponsible Drone Use Is On The Rise, Says FAA (by Ariha Setalvad, The Verge)

FAA: Drone Sightings on Pace to Quadruple This Year (by Bart Jansen, USA Today)

Pilot Reports of Close Calls With Drones Soar in 2015 (Federal Aviation Administration)

Arrival of Domestic Drones Challenges Air Safety (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


RJ Barber 8 years ago
Unregulated birds are far more plentiful unpredictable, and dangerous to our flights! (I'm a pilot) They fly within the airport boundaries of every airport I fly from and some of them are huge! Yet everybody is coming apart at the seams because of a few ignorant drone pilots? Where is the mass hysteria and wailing for imposition of harsh regulations to stop the unregulated birds from encroaching on our national airspace system? This entire drone issue is blown way out of proportion and silly to say the least. Please, get the facts and look at this issue for what it is... extremely minor. This over-inflated drone issue pales in comparison to near misses with wildlife. Besides, the vast majority of these drone sightings did not require any evasive action by the pilots. They just saw a drone. Big deal! I see birds, deer, dogs, etc all the time on the runways of the municipal airports I fly from and have to take evasive action frequently. I encounter birds everywhere and frequently have to take evasive action so I don’t end up with an extra passenger that enters the plane through the windscreen. Please, get over the fascination with drones and address the real dangers to us pilots, our passengers and aircraft.

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