Earlier this week, I told you about a scary near-miss between a drone and an airplane in London. The serious incident involved an Airbus A320 with 180 passengers on board and could have been catastrophic. At least it was an isolated incident, right? Wrong. Drones fly way too close to airplanes way more than you think.
So, how often does it happen? You're going to want to sit down for this - 25 times a month. That's right, 25 times! It's enough to make you never fly in a plane again.
This data comes courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA collected information from pilots who have reported seeing drones from the cockpit at that alarming rate. It's nearly once a month. In one situation, a drone reportedly came within 50 feet of a landing airplane at Washington Dulles in Washington, D.C.
"The reports range from unmanned aircraft sightings without impact to other pilots and aircraft, to on a few occasions, pilots altering course to avoid an unmanned aircraft," the FAA statement says.
It's clear that the FAA needs to institute stronger rules governing drone use. Right now, it's illegal to fly drones over 400 feet high in the U.S., but not everyone obeys the law. In some situations, inexperienced operators accidentally let their drones fly to dangerous heights.
One of the reported incidents describes how a high school football team lost control of the drone they used to record their game. It popped up at 1,400 feet, a good thousand feet higher than the legal altitude for drones.
The FAA is considering requiring drone operators to have a pilot's license, which would definitely keep some of those inexperienced flyers from using drones. Will it be enough? I'm not sure, but I do know that the FAA needs to do something before it's too late.