A report released by the Federal Aviation Administration reveals more than 600 instances of drone sightings near airplanes have been reported over the last five months, with an average of 3.5 incidents occurring per day.
The amount of near-hits is on a major uptick, according to the FAA's figures. Comparatively, the number of close calls in 2014 numbered around one per day.
The results released in the report include data collected from Aug. 22, 2015, to Jan. 31 of this year. While hundreds of incidents are listed, many of them do not detail close collision calls — many of them are merely sightings of drones, like one recorded in December 2015, when an American Airlines passenger spotted a drone flying alongside the jet plane.
Some other incidents listed (which the Atlanta Constitution Journal reprinted) include:
"• The pilot of a Southwest Airlines 737 reported a drone passing 100 feet below the plane as it descended to land at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
• The pilot of a private aircraft heading to Charlottesville said a basketball-sized drone flew in front of the small plane.
• On Jan. 17, a Jet Blue pilot taking off out of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York reported a near-miss collision with a drone at about 5,800 feet.
• A medical helicopter leaving a children's hospital in St. Louis, Mo., had to swerve to avoid colliding with a drone that was fewer than 100 feet away."
The FAA has taken measures long before the release of the report to educate drone operators and restrict and limit such incidents from happening in the first place: late last year, the organization launched a registry for noncommercial, recreational unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that is mandatory by law.
Roughly 406,000 people have signed up since the registry went live in December 2015.
"We have a number of educational initiatives with our government and industry partners to teach drone operators how to fly safely, including the drone registry we launched last December," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in an official statement released by the agency.
"But enforcement goes hand-in-hand with education, and we will take action against anyone who operates irresponsibly to the full extent of the law," he added.
Source: Federal Aviation Administration
Photo: Forgemind ArchiMedia | Flickr