Date
17 December 2017
Drones fly during a battle demonstration at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in California earlier this year. There are growing calls for tighter regulations on the use of unmanned aircraft. Photo: Bloomberg
Drones fly during a battle demonstration at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in California earlier this year. There are growing calls for tighter regulations on the use of unmanned aircraft. Photo: Bloomberg

Concerns grow over pilot close calls with drones

Concerns are growing in the US over safety issues related to unmanned aircraft, with more than 80 cases recorded of close calls of drones flying near airplanes and crowds in the last two months. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) got 41 reports in both September and October of safety incidents involving drones, after receiving fewer than 10 cases a month in March and April, Bloomberg News reported. 

There were a total of 193 such cases in the period from Feb. 22 through Nov. 11, the report said, citing FAA data released Wednesday.

While drones haven’t caused a traditional airplane or helicopter to crash and most cases were simple sightings, in some instances pilots reported “altering course to avoid an unmanned aircraft,” the FAA was quoted as saying.

Cases have occurred above the Hollywood sign near Los Angeles, at college football games and at the airport used for President Barack Obama’s flights, Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

A Republic Airways flight heading to New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Sept. 30 “almost hit” a drone near the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, a pilot told the FAA. 

The FAA should move more quickly to draft regulations governing drone flights, Virginia-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International was quoted as saying.

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