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12Dec 2017

Close encounters between planes and drones are becoming more common

Close encounters between planes and drones are becoming more common

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries are reporting increased numbers of drone encounters. Which is no surprise given the rise in number of drones produced and sold. Between 2016 to 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects the number of consumer drones in U.S. skies to increase from 1.1 million to 3.55 million. According to Business Insider's research, globally the number of consumer drones could hit 29 million by 2021.

A report detailing a near-miss collision between a plane and drone emerges from the United Kingdom. On September 8, 2017, a passenger plane taking off from Glasgow Airport missed colliding with a drone by a mere three seconds.

The UK Airprox Board, which investigates near-misses, estimates the plane, which can carry 78 passengers, was 110ft away from the drone at the time, leaving the pilot no time to take avoiding action.

The near-miss resembles an incident that took place at Edinburgh Airport in May when a pilot took an evasive action after a drone came within 65 feet of his plane.

These incidents were not isolated and the Airprox report showed over 10 similar events took place between August and October of 2017.

As skies become more crowded, manned aircrafts will have more encounters with unmanned drones. The first North American incident between a commercial plane and a drone occurred in Canada on October 12, 2017.

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau confirmed the crash near the Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, Canada. The crash happened about three miles from the airport at an altitude of roughly 1,500 feet. There were no reports of any injuries to the eight people aboard the plane, but the incident “could have been much more serious” or even “catastrophic” if the drone crashed into the plane’s cockpit or engine, Garneau said.

Pilots believe a collision with an airliner could be catastrophic and that the impact of a drone strike on a light plane or helicopter could very well bring it down. Recently a report commissioned by the FAA concluded that a plane colliding drone is more damaging than a plane colliding with a bird.

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