Reply to post: The Forgotten Issue

UK drone collision study didn't show airliner window penetration

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

The Forgotten Issue

As a General Aviation pilot, I'm irritated that everyone is obsessed with whether or not a drone can bring down an airliner. Anyone who flies light aircraft or helicopters is at much greater risk of encountering a drone because we spend more time at lower altitudes, and with a sheet of plexiglass rather than a triple-glazed reinforced windscreen between me and the outside world, I'm also much more likely to be joined in the cabin by any drone that comes into contact with it.

As far as saying that helicopters are at risk of drone strikes "potentially causing life-changing injuries or worse to their pilots", you should remember that ANY injury to ANY pilot flying without a second carries a significant risk of causing a fatal accident. I could be carrying 3 passengers, so a drone that comes through my windshield risks the deaths of 4 people. It's not in the same league as bringing down an airliner carrying 150, but that doesn't mean it should simply be disregarded, any more than you would ignore road safety for anything smaller than buses and coaches.

Drones are only supposed to be operated up to 400ft AGL in the UK. General Aviation, apart from a few exceptions, is restricted to flying ABOVE 500ft, except when taking off and landing, so the exclusion zones required around airfields is small - perhaps a 2-3 mile radius, ASSUMING people (drone operators AND pilots) fly legally. And there's the rub - people DON'T stick to the rules about flying drones any more than they stick to the speed limit on the roads. If we pilots risk lives by breaking rules then the CAA will track us down and prosecute. Without some sort of drone registration a drone operator can do pretty much whatever they like and get away with it - this has been borne out by various stories of late where the operator was never identified.

Of course, the legislation will be rubbish, it won't please anyone, and it'll cost too much to implement, because that's what governments inevitably produce. Plus, how are you going to identify people who DON'T register their drone?

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