Drones a ‘Real Threat’ to Passenger Planes: IATA

IATA's main concern is drones flying at low altitudes near airports, but the group also wants to ensure the radio spectrum used to control the drones does not interfere with air traffic control systems.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a commercial airline association that helps develop policy on critical aviation issues, is concerned about the “real and growing threat” consumer drones pose to commercial aviation.

Tony Tyler, director-general and CEO of the IATA, told an audience at the Singpore Airshow that regulations need to be in place before a serious accident occurs. “The issue is real. We have plenty of pilot reports of drones where they were not expected, particularly at low altitudes around airports. There is no denying that there is a real and growing threat to the safety of civilian aircraft.”

Tyler said there needs to be a sensible approach to regulation and a pragmatic method of enforcement for those who disregard rules and regulations. The IATA’s main concern is drones flying at low altitudes near airports, but the group also wants to ensure the radio spectrum used to control the drones does not interfere with air traffic control systems.

“I am as excited as you are about the prospect of having pizza delivered by a drone,” Tyler said. “They are here to stay. But we cannot allow them to be a hindrance or safety threat to commercial aviation.”

Here in the United States, of course, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched in December 2015 a drone registration system in hopes of preventing reckless flying. The FAA is requiring registration for drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kilograms). Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years, and you’ll need to provide your name, home address and e-mail address.

MUST-READ: 10 Drones You Don’t Need to Register

For those who already owned a drone before the registration site went live on Dec. 21, 2015, you need to register by Feb. 19, 2016. Anyone who becomes a first-time drone owner after Dec. 21, 2015 must register before their first flight outdoors. Failure to register a drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000.

More than 325,000 people in the US have registered drones, according to the FAA, and that’s more than all of the country’s aircraft that carry people.

Ireland also launched a mandatory registration system in Dec. 2015 for all drones that weigh more than 1kg. As of mid-January, there were 1,200 registered drones in Ireland, which is one of the first countries in Europe to mandate drone registration. Other countries, including England and the Netherlands, want to train eagles to hunt rogue drones in the sky. The idea comes amid growing concerns over drones being used to commit crimes and drones flying too close to airplanes.

The Dutch National Police released the video above that shows an eagle grabbing a quadcopter in mid-air and taking it to the ground. According to the Dutch National Police, the advantage of using eagles to capture rogue drones is that “you don’t have to worry about the drone taking off out of control or falling on people.”

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About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe: scrowe@ehpub.com  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.




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