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Drone Sightings: The Actual Non-Hyped Numbers Analyzed (Graphs, Trends, etc.)

sar104

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What a strange article. I've always liked his balanced and authoritative writing on sUAS regulation, but this is a completely different style - it reads more like a tabloid conspiracy theory piece, littered with silly rhetorical questions and faux surprise to make sure that the reader gets the point. Disappointing.
 

Bryce steiner

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I thought it was good to see the numbers. It was clear that he believes the new rules were being passed by presenting boosted estimates rather than the real numbers.
You can certainly tell he is frustrated with the news exaggeration (USA Today - "Quadruple" even though it wasn't even 3x. However, I'm not sure it's all the news' fault, as they seem to be given the lines to say from the FAA, with the similarities in the articles.
 
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Done

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Whether drones need to be regulated more is a matter for debate but the FAA and industry think that they do, so it behooves the FAA to get solid public support for that.
Drone have a remarkable safety record considering how many pilots ignore so many rules, but the thinking is that in the future it is just going to get worse.
 

Bryce steiner

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However, reality shows that it hasn’t gotten worse. There still hasn’t even been a fatality from drones. Very few hobbies or industries can say anything like that.
 

sar104

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However, reality shows that it hasn’t gotten worse. There still hasn’t even been a fatality from drones. Very few hobbies or industries can say anything like that.
I'm not sure that it's true to say it isn't getting worse. Recent studies have indicated that the rate of illegal flights in controlled airspace around airports is increasing significantly. The probability of aircraft collisions almost certainly correlates with that rate.

As for overall risk, this activity/hobby/industry is somewhat unusual in that the hazard to the operator is negligible, which is, itself, a big part of the problem. Most activities and hobbies somewhat self-regulate when the lives or health of the participants are on the line. Here the hazard is entirely to others, and when others means manned aviation and a large number of the participants clearly don't understand or care about that risk, there is little alternative to formal regulation. If the FAA simply waits until there is an aviation accident, even just one accident, it would be crucified by public opinion, and would have failed at one of its core responsibilities.
 

lookout

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However, reality shows that it hasn’t gotten worse. There still hasn’t even been a fatality from drones. Very few hobbies or industries can say anything like that.
People reported a single unmanned aircraft went going crazy before crashing. Of course there was nobody on board, but 45 people were injured or died.

OH wait a minute this isn't an airliner.
 

Bryce steiner

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People reported a single unmanned aircraft went going crazy before crashing. Of course there was nobody on board, but 45 people were injured or died.

OH wait a minute this isn't an airliner.
What are you referring to?
 

Nile Mcmillion

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People reported a single unmanned aircraft went going crazy before crashing. Of course there was nobody on board, but 45 people were injured or died.

OH wait a minute this isn't an airliner.
Can you say that again, but, in english?
 

lookout

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Can you say that again, but, in english?
The news typically can't get their facts straight, and many articles might include directly conflicting information but anyhow...

If an unmanned aircraft crashes out in the middle of an open field where nobody is, we can expect nobody to get hurt.

Most people think that the rare event of an airliner crashing will most likely kill everyone on board, but that's not always the case.

I'd say that this sums it up pretty well from the article.

The Government Accountability Office’s report in May 2018 accurately summed the situation up, “FAA told us that most of the reports cannot be verified because a small UAS typically is not detected by radar, the small UAS pilot is usually not identified, or the small UAS or other physical evidence is not recovered. FAA and some aviation industry stakeholders also told us that the reliability of many of the reports is questionable; FAA explained that this is because pilots can have difficulty positively identifying objects as small UAS, given their small size, their distance from the observed position, the speeds at which a manned aircraft and a UAS are operating, or the various factors competing for the pilot’s attention. ”

People reporting the sightings from the ground have trouble with it too.

The people operating the drone from the ground required to be focused on where the drone is at all times, but may not be able to see what might be coming at the drone at the same time.

The higher a drone/quad flies near where other aircraft fly if it is capable of getting there, is likely to get carried off in the wind too.

And also,

To give you context, during this period of time the FAA was creating regulations illegally and large numbers of sightings benefited the FAA’s argument that they needed to by-pass the laws governing the FAA in how they create regulations and the FAA is allowed to create emergency regulations due to the rapidly growing sighting numbers.

And please keep in mind these are sightings…..not mid-air collisions, near mid-air collisions, near misses, etc. They are sightings which DO include some near mid-air collisions. There have been a few mid-air collisions but they are not counted in this data.

Why not? I thought collisions is what we were interested in, not sightings.
 

Pstik

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These were big drones and flying for about 2 hours. The FAA said that's why we need dorne recognition so we can tell who owns the drone. Somehow I think people who do this wont have that installed in the drone. Sort of registration of all gun owners so we can cath the bad guys who dont register.
 
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Paradigm

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I'm not sure that it's true to say it isn't getting worse. Recent studies have indicated that the rate of illegal flights in controlled airspace around airports is increasing significantly. The probability of aircraft collisions almost certainly correlates with that rate.

As for overall risk, this activity/hobby/industry is somewhat unusual in that the hazard to the operator is negligible, which is, itself, a big part of the problem. Most activities and hobbies somewhat self-regulate when the lives or health of the participants are on the line. Here the hazard is entirely to others, and when others means manned aviation and a large number of the participants clearly don't understand or care about that risk, there is little alternative to formal regulation. If the FAA simply waits until there is an aviation accident, even just one accident, it would be crucified by public opinion, and would have failed at one of its core responsibilities.
Has there been one impact with a part 121 flight? What about the inherently more dangerous part 91 or 135?

Aren't all of these types of aircraft engineered to a degree to take a hit from an object relatively the size of a drone.

Other than a drone being sucked into a jet engine and the lipo igniting, I'm just not convinced there is a REAL threat, bar any unusual situations like an aircraft trying to evade and crashing as a result.

I think there's a lot of fear mongering, part of it being stoked by people with interests to clear the air of hobbyist aircraft that may interfere with future commercial operations
 

MavicFlyer

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Has there been one impact with a part 121 flight? What about the inherently more dangerous part 91 or 135?

Aren't all of these types of aircraft engineered to a degree to take a hit from an object relatively the size of a drone.

Other than a drone being sucked into a jet engine and the lipo igniting, I'm just not convinced there is a REAL threat, bar any unusual situations like an aircraft trying to evade and crashing as a result.

I think there's a lot of fear mongering, part of it being stoked by people with interests to clear the air of hobbyist aircraft that may interfere with future commercial operations
The mass media live by their own golden rule: If it bleeds, it leads. For the most part, they don't know much more than what is handed to them. It's rare when they accurately report a technical topic.

Although I don't know of any test of a drone colliding with an airliner, it's very unlikely that a drone could bring down an airliner. Even if a drone got sucked into a jet engine, forcing it to shut down, an airliner can continue on the remaining engine. Its performance would be reduced, but it could certainly return to the airport. If it struck the wings or fuselage, something like a Mavic or Phantom would probably break, and bounce off, leaving dents and scratches. Remember that these are mostly plastic.

The best documented drone collision I've heard of was that between a Phantom and an Army Blackhawk helicopter in the NYC area. The helo had relatively minor (but not cheap) damage, and landed without incident.

Most general aviation aircraft were never designed to survive bird strikes. Hitting a sparrow is very different from hitting a goose. I remember a picture of a Beech Baron (piston twin) that collided with a goose. The impact caused it to smash through the windshield - if there had been someone sitting in that seat, they would likely have ended up in a hospital.
 

lookout

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When the facts don't line up, it's most likely the government wants to exercise more control. Most people think they're actually going to see the drone that's sneaking up on them.

The only drones I've seen in my city were most likely the law enforcement over the two biggest seasonal hot spots for activity in the area. Supposedly there were all these swarms of drones being reported. And...well...me terrorizing my backyard on unsuspecting autumn leaves. There's a tornado in my backyard I tell you.
 

DrizzyDrones

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The only reason its getting “worse “ is because the price of the technology has dropped so much and you can get budget drones that have range and abilitys that a few years ago would cost much more . In turn people aren’t serious or even care about the hobby itself are able to purchase what used to be professional drones now in the toy price range.

when someone spends a lot of money they are less likely to do as much “risky “ behaviour and risk losing their investment.

lets be honest majority of people regularly break or have broken the VLOS law but in my opinion there is responsible safe breaking of it and stupid irresponsible breaking it
 

old man mavic

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The only reason its getting “worse “ is because the price of the technology has dropped so much and you can get budget drones that have range and abilitys that a few years ago would cost much more . In turn people aren’t serious or even care about the hobby itself are able to purchase what used to be professional drones now in the toy price range.

when someone spends a lot of money they are less likely to do as much “risky “ behaviour and risk losing their investment.

lets be honest majority of people regularly break or have broken the VLOS law but in my opinion there is responsible safe breaking of it and stupid irresponsible breaking it
@DrizzyDrones i know what you ,mean but by any stretch of the imagination ,there is no time that flying beyond VLOS can be said to be (responsible safe breaking of it )
the problem of breaking the VLOS rule, is what happens when during the time the drone is out of sight ,a low flying manned aircraft happens to be flying in the same airspace at the same height as the drone ,the onus of avoiding a collision rests with the drone pilot ,but because the drone is out of sight then the drone pilot would not know the plane was in the same airspace
or where it was in relation to the manned aircraft it does not matter whether the manned aircraft is flying in the 400 ft airspace legally or not ,if it hits the drone then ,the drone owner would be in a world of pain ,not because he was at 395 ft but because at the time he was flying out of compliance, i know that in a huge deserted area way out in the back of beyond ,it would be reasonable to think that the chances of an incident with other aircraft, or a crash causing damage to persons or property are very slim ,and its reasonable to think that this flight will be fine as there is no one around ,for miles and miles ,all this is true ,but that does not make it safe or responsible
 

DrizzyDrones

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@DrizzyDrones i know what you ,mean but by any stretch of the imagination ,there is no time that flying beyond VLOS can be said to be (responsible safe breaking of it )
the problem of breaking the VLOS rule, is what happens when during the time the drone is out of sight ,a low flying manned aircraft happens to be flying in the same airspace at the same height as the drone ,the onus of avoiding a collision rests with the drone pilot ,but because the drone is out of sight then the drone pilot would not know the plane was in the same airspace
or where it was in relation to the manned aircraft it does not matter whether the manned aircraft is flying in the 400 ft airspace legally or not ,if it hits the drone then ,the drone owner would be in a world of pain ,not because he was at 395 ft but because at the time he was flying out of compliance, i know that in a huge deserted area way out in the back of beyond ,it would be reasonable to think that the chances of an incident with other aircraft, or a crash causing damage to persons or property are very slim ,and its reasonable to think that this flight will be fine as there is no one around ,for miles and miles ,all this is true ,but that does not make it safe or responsible
I agree and yes you are stating the Facts but realistically what % of dji owners do you honestly think have never flown out of vlos...its very low id bet... I wasn’t saying that its a good thing to be doing i was just pointing out that you Really have two levels of it... u get the real irresponsible ( flying In wind over traffic...over residential..over crowds of people ect) then The more responsibility ones that fly out of vlos over a farm or in the wilderness In non windy conditions . Doesn’t make it allowed but one is much more dangerous than the other and I’d bet money that even if they deny it the % of people who have flown out of vlos is wayyyy more than the % that havent... dji drones have such good range on them really all they’d have to do is lock in a max range and people wouldn’t be able to but putting a range of several miles and telling people they can only go a 1/4 the possible distance is just asking for it ... it’s the law and its not supposed to be broken but if you do be extra careful when doing the preflight checks ..: the right weather and location is much better than total disregard
 
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