How much of a threat do drones pose to air travel? Here's what you should know

DUBLIN, Ireland - Gatwick, Heathrow, Newark, Dubai and today, Dublin: Each of these airports has been in the news recently when flights were halted or delayed by sightings of what were believed to be drones in the area. So how big a threat is this? Are drones a danger to manned aircraft?, asks Kristy Kiernan in an article she wrote for Forbes.

Feb 22nd, 2019
How can a drone bring an airport to a standstill?
How can a drone bring an airport to a standstill?
DUBLIN, Ireland - Gatwick, Heathrow, Newark, Dubai and today, Dublin: Each of these airports has been in the news recently when flights were halted or delayed by sightings of what were believed to be drones in the area. So how big a threat is this? Are drones a danger to manned aircraft?, asks Kristy Kiernan in an article she wrote for Forbes.

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The Intelligent Aerospace take:

February 22, 2019-Kiernan, who chairs the master of science in unmanned systems program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who herself is a pilot of both manned and unmanned aircraft, explains how a collision between a drone and a passenger craft could result in tragedy.

While hobbyist UAS pilots should know the FAA rules for operating their aircraft, a recent study by Embry-Riddle observed Daytona International for a period of two weeks and noted that 7% of drone flights exceeded the FAA altitude limit of 400 feet, and 21% exceeded the recommended maximum altitude for the area in which they were operating. Also, 8 drones were detected within a mile of the center of the airport.

"For perspective, in that same time period, there were about 11,500 aircraft takeoffs or landings at that airport. By comparison, 8 drones isn’t much. On the other hand, that’s a lot of airplanes in the sky and a lot of potential conflicts," Kiernan said, and noted that "geofencing" restricted areas could help warn pilots that they are operating in off-limit areas, or possibly even prevent drones from flying there at all.

Related: How can a drone bring an airport to a standstill?

Related: Possible drone flights halt air traffic in London again - this time at Heathrow

Related: NASA to test urban drone traffic management this spring

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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