The sight of a drone in our skies has become quite common in recent years. And, while they offer great commercial and recreational benefit, they can also pose very serious dangers to aircraft.
In 2017, The UK Airprox Board, whose prime objective is to enhance and maintain air safety in the UK, reported 92 near misses with drones. In 2012 there was just the one report of a drone coming into close contact with a manned aircraft, and in 2011, no incidents were reported at all.
In 2017, there were 111 reported incidents of airborne objects coming within close proximity of an aircraft, including balloons, model aircraft and “unknown”. Drones accounted for a staggering 83%.
This rise in recent years is exponential, to say the least.
Our stance is quite simple. We want to work with the authorities to ensure that drones continue to offer commercial and recreational gains, but they must in no way pose a danger to aircraft, our pilot members and UK passengers.
It is in the recreational arena where we can make a start, as this is where control can be gained. Including, perhaps, pilots and ATC having immediate access to where and when a danger may be looming, by installing some form of traceability into the drones themselves.
And, we’d fully support any moves to make the owning of drones a regulated, licensed and registered practice so again, any dangers discovered, through malice or by coincidence, can be tracked to find the culprits.
Unfortunately, there is also a more vicious threat, where a drone could be weaponised and used to target an aircraft. We are fully aware this is on the right agendas in the corridors of power and we will continue to instil vigilance within our members, make them aware of guidance and best practice, educate and continue to support them should the need arise.