Pi­lot re­ports of drone sight­ings grow in United States: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - LIFE - BY JOAN LOWY

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.

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