That’s Why Pilots Are Terrified of Drones

Date: 2020-03-01 03:00:05


So here’s what’s happening. The airport is at a standstill. Hundreds of flights are canceled. Thousands of anxious passengers are crowding near their gates. Some are pacing nervously, others try to calm down crying babies. Airlines are losing thousands of dollars for every hour of the delay. So, who or what’s to blame for all this havoc? Drones!

In January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 went down shortly after it took off from La Guardia airport in New York City. You might’ve seen this story in the movie “Sully: Miracle on the Hudson.” The cause of the crash was a seemingly innocent flock of Canada geese which collided with the plane mid-air. But think about this: an adult Canada goose weighs between 4 and 13 pounds. But a professional drone equipped with a camera is often much heavier…

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Can quadcopter cause a plane crash? 1:30
Is it hard to spot drones? 3:16
Safety rules 4:24
Dangerous situations 4:47
How can airports be protected? 7:01

US Airways Flight 1549 after crashing into the Hudson River in New York City, United States: By Greg L, CC BY 2.0 ,
Animation is created by Bright Side.

– In Canada, in October 2017, a passenger jet had an unlucky mid-air encounter with a drone. The smaller machine crashed into the plane’s wing and shattered into pieces.
– If a drone gets drawn into the turbine of a plane, it’ll most likely cause the engine to shut down, which will sure complicate things for anyone on board.
– But it’s not only about the risk of physical damage drones can do to airplanes! They can also cause radio frequency interference.
– Besides, quadcopters can be extremely difficult to spot in the sky.
– The FAA (which stands for the Federal Aviation Administration) has already registered around 1.3 million of them. But just several years ago, in 2016, this number was only 470,000!
– Hobbyist pilots have to keep their drones in sight at all times, can’t raise them higher than 400 ft in the air, and aren’t allowed to fly them in the airspace used by passenger jets.
– This accident took place in December 2018, in London. Two illegal drones appeared on the runway of Gatwick airport in the morning, and hundreds of flights had to be canceled, delayed, or even grounded to avoid the risk of collision.
– Another collision could’ve happened in November 2015. A helicopter was leaving a children’s hospital in Missouri when a drone almost crashed into it at a height of 1,400 feet.
– The air ambulance pilot later reported that if he hadn’t made a steep banking turn, this encounter could’ve ended in a disaster.
– These days in the UK, three times more airplane – quadcopter encounters happen than in 2015.
– The drones that cause the most problems don’t usually rise higher than 3,500 feet.
– That’s why airports need radars that have faster update speed and lower gaze.
– Theoretically, airports could apply a special signal-jamming system to confuse drones and make them avoid approaching the prohibited territory.
– Authorities have tried other methods, such as throwing nets to bring rogue drones down, or even using specially trained eagles to tackle the machines. But on the whole, the problem remains unsolved.

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