Aviation expert takes a look at how to reduce the dangers of drones to aircraft

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The threat of drones flying in the path of aircraft is of growing concern. 8 On Your Side has discovered that the agency tasked with catching offenders had seven local enforcement cases in the past year, so how can we reduce the risk in our skies? We spoke with aviation experts to find answers.

At present, there are 868,000 registered drones in the United States. Countless drones go unrecorded. A single agency is responsible for ensuring that each operator follows the rules.

This is one of the very few growing risks in aviation: the threat of drones hitting airplanes. For years, pilots have described close calls and near misses.

In the Tampa Bay area over the past 12 months, more than 40 sightings have been reported to the FAA and many more reported to other agencies during live events, including nearly 30 during the week of Super Bowl earlier this year.

The agency solely responsible for regulating airspace has had seven cases of local application against drone violators.

Aviation expert Captain John Cox says keeping our skies safe will take more than just law enforcement.

“There is always a resource challenge, the FAA must prioritize and they continue to enforce blatant cases,” said Captain Cox.

So how do you keep more drones out of unauthorized airspace? Captain Cox says one option is to focus on drone technology.

“One of the solutions that we see with the bigger drones is geolocation and this is where the drone using GPS knows where its position is and where it is not allowed to fly,” said the captain. Cox. “It is used more and more and more and more effective.

Another potential solution would focus on the operator.

Right now, to fly a drone as a commercial pilot in Florida you need to be certified. Recreational users do not need a license

“I think it might be necessary to increase drone licensing requirements, as most of these intrusions have been from people flying drones where they shouldn’t,” said Captain Cox.

Captain Cox says bigger and heavier drones are needed to transmit their position. However, only certain aircraft can receive this transmission and warning.

Keep in mind that if you are purchasing a drone on this holiday, you cannot fly within five miles of an airport and must stay within 400 feet.

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