Pilot reports of drone sightings grow in United States: officials
Pilot reports of drone sightings in the U.S. so far this year are more than double last year, according to aviation officials, raising concern about the potential for a deadly collision.
There have been more than 650 reports this year by pilots of unmanned aircraft flying near manned aircraft, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. There were 238 drone sightings in all of 2014.
The reports come from pilots of a variety of aircraft, including many large airliners. The concern is that if a drone collides with an aircraft engine, it could disable the engine much like birds do sometimes when they get chewed up by engines. Also, a high speed collision with a drone might damage the surface of a plane, changing the airflows in a way that makes the plane difficult to maneuver.
There were 16 drone sightings reported in June 2014, and 36 the following month. This year, there were 138 reports from pilots flying up to 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in altitude in June, and 137 reports in July.
Earlier this week, crews on four commercial flights spotted a drone while preparing to land at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. None of the pilots were required to make evasive maneuvers as a result of the sightings. The planes were between 2,000 and 3,000 feet (600 to 900 meters) in the air and eight to 13 miles (20 kilometers) away from the airport.
The FAA generally restricts drone flights to beneath 400 feet (120 meters) and at least 3 miles (5 kilometers) from an airport.