Pilots association calls for action on safety as drone sales predicted to increase


Photo: Polina Shuvaeva/iStockphoto

Washington – Safety efforts involving unmanned aircraft systems – commonly referred to as drones – must improve to protect airline aircraft, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, International.

ALPA President Capt. Tim Canoll called for fast action in an Oct. 7 statement submitted to the House Aviation Subcommittee. Canoll cited federal estimates that show as many as 1 million unmanned aircraft systems could be sold during the holiday season.

That poses additional safety hazards for pilots, who reported 764 events involving UAS encounters during a 10-month period from November 2014 to August 2015, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

ALPA is calling for a four-part action plan that includes:

  • Education: Ensure UAS operators adhere to FAA guidelines.
  • Registration: Gather information about UAS purchasers.
  • Technology: Airline pilots should be able to spot UASs on radar if they enter airspace intentionally or unintentionally. Additionally, UASs should include active technologies capable of allowing them to avoid collisions with manned aircraft.
  • Penalties and enforcement: Penalize those who fly UASs into airspace that creates a hazard for manned aircraft, and criminally prosecute those who do so intentionally.

“Given the safety risk highlighted by the FAA’s recent release of pilot reports on UAS encounters, it appears increased focus on UAS safety is necessary,” Canoll said in a press release.