Double drone trouble hits 2017

We’ve covered incidents of small UAV misuse before and are likely to repeat the process again after the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) prediction that 2017 could see a double in drone near-misses.

In 2015 there were 29 incidents reported in the UK, increasing to 69 in 2016. With small UAVs being at the top of many people’s Christmas lists this year, this figure is likely to rise yet again. Interestingly back in 2013, which seems like ancient history now we are in 2017, there were zero reported incidents.

So while companies look at technologies for drone detectionhow to override UAV controls and lasers that can blast small platforms out of the sky, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and BALPA are telling a cautionary tale.

‘Drones can be great fun and we’re not surprised at their popularity over Christmas as people received them as presents,’ said Steve Landells, BALPA flight safety specialist.

‘However, after a significant increase in near-misses last year it seems not everyone who is flying them either know or care about the rules that are in place for good reason.

‘That’s why we’re urging anyone who has a drone to take a look at the Civil Aviation Authority’s drone code and be proactive in educating themselves on the rules.’

But this is nothing new.

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The same rhetoric was heard in April 2016 when a British Airways plane was hit by a suspected UAV and countless other incidents of drones in airport airspace followed.

So is the CAA and other aviation authorities simply shouting at a brick wall? It could well seem that way.

A Department for Transport’s ‘public dialogue on drone use in the UK’, published on 21 December, highlighted some of the gaps in the public’s knowledge about small UAS.

It seems that more education is needed and heightened awareness of its proper use. It would be unfortunate should a serious incident be caused when the message is quite clear.

But then again allowing the general public to throw a small quadcopter in the air and fly it around may not be the best idea society has had.

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