From Mashable

By Chris Perkins

If for some reason you think the lack of drone regulation in the U.S. isn't a problem, read this.

The Washington Post obtained records from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detailing nearly 700 close calls between drones and airplanes in the U.S. in 2015. Over 70 close calls have been recorded between Aug. 1-17.

A government official anonymously provided the Washington Post with these documents because they disagreed with the FAA's level of secrecy. The report notes that the FAA has declined to release public reports on these incidents.

The near-700 close calls between drones and airplanes is three times higher than the same figure in 2014.

Drones aren't legally allowed to fly above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport, but the FAA is mostly powerless to enforce this.

While there hasn't yet been a collision with a drone and an airplane, it doesn't take much imagination to explore the potential hazards. A bird strike has the potential to bring down an aircraft, as was the case with 2009's "Miracle on the Hudson", so one could reasonably assume a small drone could do similar damage.

The issue here is that unmanned arial vehicles (UAV), in their current state, are almost impossible to track: they aren't detected by radar and many aren't equipped with devices to transmit their location. It's nearly impossible to catch the culprits, too, since they are likely flying their UAVs from a distance.

Much of the work towards developing a practical system has actually been carried out by NASA and other private entities like Verizon and Amazon, not the FAA.


Image: Amazon

Many of the regulation plans being floated involve the use of "geofencing" in some capacity. With geofencing, all drones would be required to connect to the Internet and certain areas would be virtually fenced off, preventing UAV flight. Drones would also be required to register with a central governing agency.

The main issue with the NASA/Verizon and Amazon plans is that not all drones are Internet connected, so older drones would need to be retrofitted or banned outright. Of course, geofencing wouldn't prevent rouge operators to fly unconnected drones, but it'd be a step toward bringing order to the current situation.

Full article here

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  • @Gary,

    Well said.

    Looking at some of the reports to the FAA one said purple cylinder shape. What self respected drone pilot would fly a purple drone. I'm also beginning to think any balloon spotted is going to be labeled a drone. 

  • Admin


    Some very astute observations.

    Keep them coming.


    TCIII Admin

  • Good job Tom, definitely got some dialog going.

    My guess is that even the FAA is suspicious of just how many of the drone near miss reports are really hey if you look really hard I think I can see a drone over there, doesn't that look like a drone to you, oops speck on the windshield.

    Unfortunately, many manned pilots are not the friends of drones viewing them as both an unnecessary threat to safety and also to their jobs.

    I don't speak for all pilots here, but certainly a substantial group of them.

    It used to be if a pilot saw something he couldn't identify it was a UFO and the pilot was shunned and disparaged, but now, if he sees a "drone" he is a hero for spotting this menace to the public well being.

    Sort of reversed the incentive on that whole thing.

    And as P2P said the News sells a lot more advertising if they report on the imminent drone menace rather than simply saying somebody saw a drone today. 

    Don't get me wrong, with an infinite number of Phantoms and an infinite number of idiots, something truly unpleasant is bound to happen sooner or later, in fact the miracle is that it hasn't yet.

    We need to get out in front of the idiots and at least let them know what is reasonable and what is not (so they can stop being idiots).

    Unfortunately the incredibly rapid pace of adoption has circumvented the normal evolution of checks and balances that usually accompanies new things.

    Best Regards,


  • just a few days ago on diydrons someone looked through the FAA report and even the FAA thinks most drone spotting's are thought to be wither balloons. As for drone strikes let look at birds.

    In the United State alone, over 10,000 wildlife strikes are reported each year

    Drones strikes = zero

    Since 1988 in usa

    Killed by bird strikes=200

    Killed by Drones=Zero

    We would need a craze number of plain drone strikes to even have a chance to kill one person. My math is for every 1350 or so bird strikes we kill one person. Soooooo we have a long way to go before a drone kills someone. But good news USA has unlimited money so let regulate something less dangerous than  buckets.(kill five people a year)

  • The news media is a business.  A business exists to sell a product and make a profit.  That product they sell is advertising space on their websites and commercials on the TV stations.  The actual news reporting is just fill to attract views to their advertising.

    HUNDREDS NARROWLY AVOID DISASTER IN DRONE CONFRONTATION creates far more business for their advertising revenue than "FAA reports no major problems today"

  • "in about two out of five cases, a drone was not within an airport’s no-fly zone when it interfered with manned air traffic." 

    I've wondered about this myself lately - how many of these 'near misses' are no such thing?

    Very human to over-dramatise for maximum attention. A drone spotted off in the distance (maybe exactly where it should be) becomes 'we nearly collided with a drone', or nobody cares about our story.

    My club field is right under the circuit for my local (small) airport. When I'm at 50 ft, they're passing nearby or overhead at 1000' (max). I find myself wondering when the cops are going to pull up to investigate a 'near miss with a drone' (followed by the 6 o'clock news')

    Come to think of it, I could probably prank the local news with a photo of one of these 'near misses'. (but I won't)


  • 100KM

    What is surprising to me and what I find remarkable is that drones are being flown over 400 ft.     1500 ft?  I know that they can be flown that high but they become very difficult to see.

    Perhaps all drones should come with an FAA flight rules card.   Fly under 400 ft and within the operators direct line of sight.   

  • Admin


    I believe that this is the link to the original Washington Post article as it appears in the original Mashable post Washington Post obtained records

    I believe that Perkins was using information gleaned from the Post article for the basis of his Mashable post. 

    We all have opinions and this was just Perkins' opinion on the subject at hand.


    TCIII Admin 

    FAA records detail hundreds of close calls between airplanes and drones
    Commercial pilots are reporting a surge in near-collisions, according to documents obtained by The Post.
  • I also wonder how many of these sightings are one of the 102 weather balloons released daily by NOAA? It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! … No! It’s a NOAA Weather Balloon!

  • Do you mean the part about "The Washington Post obtained several hundred of the rogue-drone reports from a government official who objected to the FAA’s secrecy", which is a line that appears in the Washington Post article?  You've copy & pasted an article that is essentially a copy & paste of the Washington Post article; Mashable didn't add any new information, and didn't mention the very relevant news that the FAA has since released the records, as of 4 days ago.

    I'm just trying to elevate the quality of the posts here beyond copy & paste of a diluted, out-of-date aggregator post.

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