A worldwide wave of near misses has led a renewed call for safety regulations surrounding drones and aircraft. Pilots continue to report near misses between their aircraft and drones. The call for counter drone action is becoming louder. This week the Federal Aviation Authority (US) have announced that they are investing the crash of a helicopter. Adding to the confusion it appears that it was possibly caused by a drone.
Calls for counter drone action
According to a report made by Bloomberg this helicopter appears to have been taken down by a civilian drone. Reports from both the student pilot and the instructor that was in the plane detailed that they both saw a drone right in front of them moments before the helicopter went down. The police in Charleston, South Carolina have confirmed that the crash followed alleged manoeuvres to avoid the drone. The instructor took over control of the aircraft but the tail collided with trees anyway. Apparently this was the second incident under investigation in a week involving a drone, This has reinforced the call by pilots globally for counter drone action to be implemented.
Drone Incidents in Canada
While all of this has been happening, it has emerged that investigators in Canada released a report covering the collision between a drone and a small charter plane. All this has been amid pressure from aviation groups to tighten regulations with harsh penalties for drone pilots infringing air space rules. These calls for counter drone action have come hot on the heels after the release video footage was taken by a drone flying no more than ten feet behind an airliner in Las Vegas.
Drone Incidents in Hawaii
Allegations of an air tour helicopter clipping a drome in Hawaii follows hot on the heels of these reports. Stories from all over the world are flowing in on a daily basis about near misses and collisions with manned aircraft. It is only a matter of time before tragedy strikes.
There has been a confirmed report of a drone striking a military helicopter in New York City. Parts of the drone were found lodged in the helicopter and the part numbers meant that the owner was tracked down. Additionally a small charter place carrying eight people in Quebec was struck by a drone recently. This particular incident has highlighted the need for counter drone activity. Particularly in the interests of safety of manned aircraft. Fortunately the plane was able to land safely with only minor damage to its left wing.
The situation has become very alarming. So much so that even those groups that defend the rights of those who fly drones as a hobby, have started to call for action.
South African pilots reports drone nuisance
The South African Civil aviation Authority have expressed concern too. Two Durban pilots reported near misses in the last week too. Additionally a pilot that carried a paramedic and a safety officer during the world famous Dusi marathon reported a drone right next to her helicopter. This resulted in her having to take evasive action. In South Africa the problem is not so much lack of regulations but cross the board ignorance and the inability of the authorities to enforce the law. It is incidents such as these that have lead to calls in South Africa for more proactive counter drone action.
There is certainly not a shortage of regulations in countries like South Africa. It is the ease with which people can buy drones that creates the problems. Then fly them like toy models and do so without any consideration of the dangers they are causing. Proposals for counter drone action together with requirements for licencing drones and identifying transponders will soon become reality.
Regulations and counter drone implementation
It is almost inevitable that a major tragedy will happen. It may be necessary in order to put an end to the dithering over the finer detail in drone legislation. In some jurisdictions counter drone action has involved the introduction of counter drone action that is difficult to implement. In other jurisdictions counter drone action involves the implementation of counter drone activity, but the costs are enormous. With high costs the implementation of regulations have become threadbare. Until there are clearly defined serious consequences for breaking the law with a drone, the risk will remain. It would only take one high profile case to bring home the reality of the dangers that drones present. In particular when not flown or managed properly.