As many of you are aware, there has been a marked increase in sensational media reports of drones allegedly flying too close to manned aircraft. The alarm this has caused was compounded by the FAA’s August 12 press release, “Pilot Reports of Close Calls with Drones Soar in 2015.”
In order to better understand what’s actually occurring, and what role AMA could play to advance safe flying, our organization closely analyzed each of the 764 records in the FAA’s dataset. AMA’s analysis, “A Closer Look at the FAA’s Drone Data ,” reveals a more complex picture of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drone) activity in the United States than the initial headlines would suggest. From military crashes to a UFO sighting, only a fraction of the reports were legitimately reported “close calls” or “near misses.” You may have already seen the report in this morning’s USA Today (“Drone hobbyists find flaws in "close call" reports to FAA from other aircraft”) or on VICE News (“ Drones are the new UFOs”).
While AMA works closely with the FAA, and we continue to consider the agency a partner in promoting model aircraft and consumer drone safety, our report concludes that the FAA could have done a better job of presenting their data in a more factually accurate manner. By using misleading language in its press release, releasing only preliminary reports and not critically analyzing those reports, the FAA’s report only served, at best, to paint a cloudy and less than accurate picture and raises concerns that simply may not be realistic.
Today, AMA distributed a press release to the media with its findings. Additionally, AMA sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. AMA also sent a letter to members of Congress.
As you read through the report, please feel free to contact us should you have any questions. Also, please make sure to share this report on your Twitter, Facebook and any other social channels.