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Drone Close Calls Cause Problems for Aircraft

December 1, 2014  - By
Image: GPS World

New data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows dozens of dangerous encounters around the country over the past six months, according to the Washington Post. Since June 1, commercial airlines, private pilots and air-traffic controllers have alerted the FAA to 25 episodes in which small drones came within a few seconds or a few feet of crashing into much larger aircraft. Many of the close calls occurred during takeoffs and landings at the nation’s busiest airports, presenting a new threat to aviation safety after decades of steady improvement in air travel.

Portland International Airport (PDX) is one airport that has experienced a surge in near-collisions with small drones, including several close calls as reported by pilots, reports KGW-TV. Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop rules for drone technology.

According to KGW, one pilot was flying his Piper Archer II just south of downtown Portland on September 20 when a small drone buzzed by his private airplane at 3,000 feet. In another incident on July 7, a Hawker Beechcraft BE35 reported passing an unmanned aircraft while flying near PDX at 2,200 feet.

On September 11 and September 18, Port of Portland Police were notified by federal agents that someone was flying a drone 150-200 feet above their building. The FBI building sits just one-half mile from an airport runway. According to FAA reports, air traffic controllers at PDX could see the unmanned aircraft from the tower.

Also, FAA data shows two incidents involving drones were reported in Medford, Oregon, on September 27 and October 24.

Watch the video news story on the KGW-TV website.

This is posted in GIS News, UAS/UAV

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.