The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today released an updated list of pilot, air traffic controller, law enforcement and citizen reports of potential encounters with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – more popularly called “drones". The latest data cover February through September 2016.
Reports of possible drone sightings to FAA air traffic facilities continued to increase during FY 2016. There were 1,274 such reports from February through September last year, compared with 874 for the same period in 2015.
Although the data contain several reports of pilots claiming drone strikes on their aircraft, to date the FAA has not verified any collision between a civil aircraft and a civil drone. Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft.
Safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system is one of the FAA's top priorities, and the agency wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.
The FAA wants operators to know where it's legal to fly their drones. For current information on where unmanned aircraft can be flown safely, the FAA offers the B4UFLY app which is available for iOS and Android smartphones. The app is free and can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play.