Drone “close encounters” are becoming a big concern to aviation officials.
News4 Investigates combed through FAA data and found dozens of reported close encounters between drones and manned aircraft, like planes and helicopters, in Tennessee since 2018.
“Hey you might want to be aware… it looks like a drone went by about 500 feet below us, heading eastbound,” reported a pilot to air traffic control in Nashville.
There were also reports of pilots having to take evasive maneuvers.
“We just dodged a drone!” reported a pilot to air traffic control in Memphis.
And if you think a drone couldn’t cause harm to a plane, researchers at the University of Dayton would disagree.
In a test designed to mimic a midair collision at 238 miles per hour, their test showed a drone causing significant damage to the wing.
Across the country last year, pilots and other witnesses reported 1237 "drone encounters," where drones were spotted in the close vicinity of aircraft or airports.
"We are concerned with the number of pilot-drone sighting reports we're getting and the number or reports we're getting around airports," said Ian Gregor, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration. "The numbers have gone up every year over the past three years."
Currently it is very difficult to track down the owner of an errant drone and enforce flight rules. It is such a concern to aviation officials that the Federal Aviation Administration is developing a system to track drones and their pilots in real time.
"Technology is going to be a very important solution going forward," said Gregor.
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