Aviation regulators, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, have been investigating a flurry of close calls between consumer drones and manned aircraft, which poses a significant risk to the flying public and the public down below. We are even seeing collision reports from Canada –just last week Canadian authorities released a report of a drone collision with a small charter plane. Here in the United States, regulators are investigating a helicopter crash on Daniel Island in Charleston, South Carolina allegedly caused by a drone and another incident in Hawaii where an air-tour helicopter clipped a drone mid-flight. All of these investigations come only a few days after aviation-industry groups ask Congress to tighten regulations on consumer drones.
In a prior study, the FAA determined that a drone would cause more damage than birds of similar size because they contain metal parts. The study found that damage from a drone could be significant to windshields, wings, and tail surfaces of a manned aircraft. It is the surging number of incidents combined with the difficulty in monitoring consumer drone flights that has alarmed the aviation community.
While the FAA is still investigating the potential drone collision in Hawaii, that would be the second time that a drone struck a manned aircraft in the United States; in September 2017, a drone struck an Army helicopter near New York City when the operator had flown the drone out of sight and did not see the helicopter in its path. This is certainly an issue for concern as more and more consumer drones hit the skies.