FRANKFURT/BERLIN: The small, remote-controlled drones that have recently grown in popularity are beginning to pose a significant threat to flight safety in the United States, according to new data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Cyber attacks and commercial drones pose a growing risk of commercial airplane crashes, a major insurer said, running counter to a long-term decline in fatal accidents and insurance premiums.
A plane landing at London’s Heathrow Airport earlier this year was 700 feet off the ground when a pilot spotted a remote-controlled too close for comfort with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority assigning the incident its most dangerous possible authority.
On a few occasions, pilots had to alter their course to avoid the drone. In most instances, however, the drones did not impact the flights, the FAA said.
One pilot reported seeing a drone while flying over the Arizona State University football stadium on Nov. 8 and another saw one flying over the University of Tennessee during a game in October.
The increase in reports can also be attributed to greater awareness and improvements in the reporting process, the FAA said.
Currently, drones are legal for hobbyists but illegal for businesses unless they have an exemption from the FAA. And flying a drone for commercial reasons requires a special waiver, because there are no official drone rules out yet.