In a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article, titled “FAA regulations won’t diminish danger of drones,” the author takes the position that new FAA drone registration plan will be nothing more than an “annoyance for drone and model airplane owners.”
The Federal Aviation Administration announced its long-awaited regulations for unmanned recreational aerial drones and model airplanes this week. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how they will do much to diminish the growing problem of irresponsible drone pilots flying their aircraft dangerously close to commercial jets and airports, including San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.
Earlier this week, an analysis released by Bard College said that from Dec. 17, 2013, to Sept. 12 of this year, there were at least 241 encounters between drones and manned aircraft that met the FAA definition of a near-collision, including 14 in San Diego.
The FAA has long been concerned about the potential for disaster and has long been studying what to do about it, particularly with the fast-growing popularity of toy drones. The agency estimates that 1.6 million hobbyist drones will be sold this year, half of them in the last three months of the year.
I’m not sure I agree with the author’s position 100%. While the registration plan may not go as smoothly as the FAA would like, it does create some level of drone operator accountability.
A few other interesting things to note in this piece, one topic that we’ve reported on before is disparity between the FAA’s and the AMA’s drone/airplane near collision numbers. In this article, the author references a new study by Bard College. This new study reports near collision numbers closer to the FAA’s findings, then the AMA’s findings.
Drone sightings sparked widespread concerns in August because the FAA reported that the number was on pace to quadruple this year, from 238 in 2014. The release was titled: “Pilot Reports of Close Calls With Drones Soar in 2015.”
The AMA’s findings were quite different.
… the Academy of Model Aeronautics found that many drone sightings reported to FAA were vague, mistaken or involved remotely piloted aircraft that were following the rules.
The study found 27 cases, 3.5%, where the pilot reported a “near miss” or “near collision” or “NMAC,” for near mid-air collision. The study also found several reports where the pilot “isn’t reporting a near mid-air” or “did not consider it as a NMAC.”
Another interesting tidbit, the author claims the FAA now “estimates that 1.6 million hobbyist drones will be sold this year, half of them in the last three months of the year.” This is slightly off from the numbers we’ve been reporting; based on our research, we expect 1,000,000 drones will be sold during this holiday season. Regardless of whose estimate you choose to believe, the consensus is that a ridiculous number of drones will be sold this holiday season. For those last minute shoppers, there is still time if you’ve been considering gifting a drone.
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San Diego is a major city in California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 120 miles (190 km) south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico.
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