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Are US Airline Pilots Worried About the UAV Drone Traffic?




Try to imagine this:

You are boarding the Porter Airlines Flight that travels from Washington to Toronto. The plane carefully lands at the Dulles Airport. And, you see something “small” glide with your plane. How will you react to the small object? How will the pilot react? This small object is not a bird or a storm cloud! Instead, it is an unmanned aerial system/vehicle! In simpler terms, it is a drone that is just 20 meters away from you. The drone was spotted by everyone and the pilot. After landing the plane, the pilot reports about the drone to the US Federal Aviation Administration. Few other authorities are also informed about the incident.

The above incident happened on the 29th of June 2017. This was one of the many close encounters between unmanned aerial vehicles and aircrafts. According to FAA, nearly 20+ incidents were reported.

Pilots driving commercial and private planes are seeing drone frequently. They come across drones that are controlled by photographers and hobbyists. And, these individuals prefer flying their drones near planes. This makes flying difficult for pilots. Some of these cases were reported from America’s busiest airports and major airlines. So, are pilots worried about unmanned aerial vehicles? Do they want drone traffic in and around airports to be reduced?

The President of Air Line Pilots Association, Captain Lee Moak considers drones as “Catastrophic”. They believe that camera drones can collide and cause damages to aircrafts. Moak revealed that the FAA is trying to integrate drones with airspace facilities. This policy can change the way we use and see drones.

Regulations Around police Drones

Moak told reporters that commercial pilots are prepared to share skies with unmanned aerial vehicles. The captain is aware of the fact that drones are here to stay. This is a promising industry that revolves around “safety”. When it comes to drones, safety is of paramount importance.

DJI Matrice 200

Photo Credit: The Verge

Moak told the committee that drones are advantageous to the country’s economic growth and competitiveness. But, the unmanned aerial vehicles come with many safety issues. The drones must be treated carefully to avoid unexpected accidents. They must be treated as airplanes flying in the airspace. Moak advises the FAA to frame drone regulations cautiously. On the other hand, many stakeholders are forcing the FAA to work fast.

The Beginning

Congress instructed FAA to include drones in its Airspace regulations by the start of 2012. The FAA was expected to frame regulations by the end of September 2015. Though the organization has been working on this for years, it has not reached anywhere. The organization has developed guidelines for hobbyists and recreational users.
According to the guideline, drones should stay below 122 meters or 400 feet. And, drones must not be flown near busy airports. Till the guidelines are finalized, commercial drones must not be flown around airports. Luckily, the FAA has few exemptions.


Tech Support

Tech giants like Amazon are encouraging the FAA to advance its guidelines. These companies are warning the federal government that its aviation industry is falling behind. In the next few years, the country is likely to lose several billion. The drone industry in the USA estimated to reach 82 billion USD by the end of 2025. This means the drone industry can create tens of thousands of career opportunities. Amazon intends to use drones for package delivery. In a letter to the Federal organization, Amazon reveals that drones are to be tested outside the US. And, the tech giant claims that the FAA is very slow in framing drone traffic regulations. This has made the company’s tech efforts difficult.

Where is Canada’s drone industry?

Some companies in the United States believe that other countries are ahead in the drone industry. This includes countries like Canada and Germany. When it comes to drone safety, United States has a long way to go! Many transportation committees have expressed similar feelings. These committees are not happy with the country’s drone guidelines and regulations. They believe that the drone industry is moving in a different direction. This can be attributed to FAA’s slow response rate.

What does FAA Say?

Federal Aviation Administration admits that the entire process needs plenty time and effort. But, it says that many exemptions will be issued during the process.

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