On Friday, March 25, the Federal Aviation Administration released 582 new reports of incidents involving unmanned aircraft in the U.S. airspace system. These reports date from August 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016.
The new data shows that the rate of incidents remains higher than in previous years. Every month from August 2015 to January 2016 saw approximately three times the number of incidents that occurred in the same month of the previous year.
91.9 percent of all incidents occurred above the FAA’s 400-foot ceiling for unmanned aircraft.
Incidents beyond five miles of an airport tend to occur at much higher altitudes than incidents ￼within five miles of an airport. The average altitude of incidents with a recorded airport distance of ￼more than five miles was 4,146 feet. The average altitude of incidents that occurred within five ￼miles of an airport was 2,048 feet. ￼
Roughly one third of all reported Close Encounter incidents involved a multi engine jet aircraft.
In 24 incidents, drones reportedly came within 50 feet of a manned aircraft. In 11 instances, aircraft made evasive maneuvers to avoid a drone.
I love this group at Bard. They are smart and they do really good work. The article is illustrated with some charts that make it easier to understand the data. One would assume that the AMA is also hard at work on their own analysis.
While 36% of all incidents involve multi-engine jets, the rest involve smaller planes – in particular 47% are single engine prop planes. Planes that are less likely to withstand, much less survive a drone strike.
This is a lot like going to Vegas. Roll the dice often enough and you will hit something. The concerns expressed by various industry groups are sincere and well founded. The public outcry is going to be loud and the politicians are going to react as is the FAA. It is unfortunate that despite all of the publicity around this issue people still go out and do it. And it is highly doubtful that a crash will change that.