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Are drones really dangerous to airplanes?

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Imagine boarding a plane. Economy class. There's a kid behind you kicking the seat. You put on headphones and try to tune out the world. Immediately after takeoff, you feel a thud and hear an explosion over the sound of your music. The plane lurches. You look out the window at the plane's engine and see fire and black smoke. Terrifying, right? (phys.org) Mehr...

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bbabis
bbabis 7
This pretty much sums up how I've felt all along. We have much more pressing safety issues in aviation to throw resources at. Basically, drones are already not allowed around airports and airplanes aren't allowed under 500' unless around an airport. Problem solved. Someone with evil intent will do what they want and no additional law no matter how draconian will prevent it. Sure something can happen. That's the nature of life and the risk we accept to do what we want. Who remembers flying into DAY with the gun range under the approach or departure course depending on the runway in use? I don't remember any instances from that. Look how many golf courses are adjacent to airports everywhere. I've never heard of a golfball plane collision. Common sense is what's needed, but that has become almost extinct.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 2
Funny stuff. Birds just don't fly at an airliner, and if they inadvertingly get in the way of one usually the bird has enough self preservation awareness to get out of the way. Human operators, not so much! Interesting about the electronic fence, then we could all have our own R - airspace! Personally, I think an altitude restriction of 100' and a horizontal distance of 500' works quite well and of course the usual aerodrome restrictions.
upchucked
100 feet? When and where do you operate any aircraft 100 ft. AGL? Drones are already banned from operating near airports, so unless they have changed the FARs, you and the drone should never come close.
cactus1549
Travis Mauldin 2
Even though they are banned from being near airports don't mean that they can STILL fly near airports. Just like Burglary, there is law against but the law still has to be enforced.
bbabis
bbabis 2
BINGO! Travis. Those that don't care about laws will still not care about new laws and more than 90% of new laws are not needed if we would only enforce the laws we already have.
cactus1549
Travis Mauldin 1
Thanks. bbabis, Glad You Agree. :)
ctwilhoit
Ha- my point exactly! I don't think there are a lot of suicide birds. But I could be wrong.
bcfd29
Pete Schecter 2
More research is needed to quantify the effect of contact between small consumer grade UAV's and aircraft; it is clearly a dangerous situation, but the best way to manage risk (besides working to eliminate it) is a better understanding of the problem.

Studies of impact effects to various systems and structures are indicated, and may lead to improvements of both the threat and potentially affected system or component.

Consumer UAV's are not going away, users will not be getting any smarter, and depending on the swing of the regulatory pendulum, a proactive approach is much more efficient than relying solely on enforcement (which is typically after the fact and reactive).

How about the industry measuring and documenting these effects, in a test setting, so good data is uses as the foundation for future policy.
delmonaco03
I see this from both sides, as a student pilot and a drone operator. Honestly, I'd like to see the results from a drone being sucked into an engine. Sadly, as has been pointed out, common sense is becoming less common and idiots are becoming more common. I'm the last one to want more government regulation but this is something that needs to be done. As my business develops with industrial drones, there are times the services I offer will be needed near an airport. I believe drones and aircraft can coexist to a certain extent, but there needs to be a lot of training and understanding on how fast feces can go downhill. Then again, my drone with $150k of equipment vs some moron who bought one for $100 are going to be flown differently.
btweston
btweston 3
This article has "pro-drone lobbying group" written all over it. Pull enough numbers out of your ass and you can sound smart on any subject.

"In only 28 incidents did pilots even decide to take evasive action"

Only 28, eh? Gee, that's comforting. Only 28 times did a flying metal object with limited visibility get in the way of a manned vehicle flying at relatively high speed. Nothing to see here, folks!
mattdavis
mattdavis 1
I appreciate that the author is attempting to inject logic and science into a discussion that is full of hyperbole and conjecture, on both sides.
bentwing60
bentwing60 2
"That same type of onboard computerized decision-making has the potential to greatly increase the safety of manned air transportation by eliminating pilot error".

For those who didn't read the article, disregard. For those that did, he makes some great points and has some serious bloopers, including the one that introduces this post. In my book the only way to eliminate "pilot error" is to get rid of the FAA. Cheers.
iflyfsx
iflyfsx 1
You know what's dangerous to an airplane? Cutbacks in maintenance to save money. Overworking and underpaying pilots. But that's OK, keep feeding on mainstream media sensationalism.
ctwilhoit
I appreciate the viewpoint, however I have two points to make: 1) The likelihood of a psychologically unstable bird trying to cause trouble by running into a plane is, I believe, a million times less likely than the possibility of a human in a similar condition doing the same and 2)If you happen to be on the plane that - despite tremendous odds against it- has a drone sucked into the engine and damage is caused, you are unlikely to care about how statistically improbable it is.
bbabis
bbabis 3
1) If you take away everything that a psychologically unstable person can use to commit mayhem, you have shut down life as we know it. Wouldn't the more sane approach be to identify and control the psychologically unstable?

2) Many people are killed every day by statistically improbable circumstances. I'll pray for their loved ones but you just have to say, "Wow! What was the chance of that happening?"
ctwilhoit
Oh I totally agree to both. But I would just say that comparing the risk introduced by one bird to the risk introduced by 1 human operated drone might not be a completely fair comparison. Now, it may be that there are psychotic and/or devious birds out there, but of course it's hard to know since we don't speak their language or have them undergo psychoanalysis that often ;)

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