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Drones threatening commercial a/c?

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Drones threatening commercial a/c?

Old 29th Oct 2014, 15:51
  #1 (permalink)  
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Drones threatening commercial a/c?

Here's a report of a drone thought to have been deliberately flown close (within 80 feet) to a commercial aircraft on approach at London Southend Airport. This event follows an American report of a drone nearly colliding with a passenger plane near Tallahassee's airport in March of this year; that near-collision happened at an altitude of over 2,000 feet.

Report: Drone nearly collided with British passenger plane on purpose

Do drones of this size present much of a danger to these aircraft? Would they be roughly equivalent to a bird strike? Could colliding with one bring a plane down?

Apparently the UK's BALPA will have a representative speak before the House of Lords this week about their concerns, so it sounds serious.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 16:23
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Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are UAS that are 55lbs or less. I would expect a cockpit strike with a 55lb UAS could make your day too exciting. Most aero engines would become rather rough after ingesting a UAS too.

The problem is that there are idiots around who have graduated from [email protected] pointers to flying these small UAS who are going to cause the entire commercial industry and for that matter model aircraft flying to be outlawed. They will do that by bringing down a passenger aircraft. Unfortunately it looks like they will continue being stupid until they do bring down an aircraft.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 18:36
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Would they be roughly equivalent to a bird strike?
Depends on the bird . Having a Google ( as you do ) I see that these seemingly easily available drones:...

Overview of our drones - Height Tech Gm

are somewhat more massive than your "**** me, I don't want to fly into you" Common Buzzard, which weighs in at a mere 1.3 kg max ....roughly 3 lbs in old money....

I'll let you draw your on conclusions, but personally I wouldn't want to collect a flesh, feather and blood 1.3 kg Buzzard, so as for a 2.5 kg drone...........

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are UAS that are 55lbs or less.
Yikes, a suitcase weighing 55 lbs suitcase would be on the verge of triggering overweight charges on many airlines.......

Last edited by wiggy; 29th Oct 2014 at 23:21.
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 22:28
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whoever flies a drone or anything less than ~1000 ft from any aircraft should be jailed for a long time as a lesson for others
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Old 29th Oct 2014, 23:42
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I'm afraid that drones are an unconfessed nightmare for airport security managers. No need to say more.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 00:55
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An obvious future nightmare for all commercial airliners. No need to be on the plane anymore and lighting your shoe on fire.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 00:59
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The NYC police dept is using the "T" word with respect to drones.

I had been thinking it would be an enjoyable way to spend some time now that I have given up my medical and sold my plane, but it looks like the environment for playing with one is going to be somewhat hostile.

Just another example of how the T-words have won.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 13:22
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I have one

The small dromes, known generally as quadracopters weigh a hundred gramms or so, I have two but the range is limited to a couple of hundred metres from the TX so unless you are airside or being pretty stupid, they wouldnt be a threat. Also they tend to drop out the sky why they go out of range.

The bigger ones are expensive, £350 for the smallest one so I dont think the [email protected] pointer idiots will be going there. Besides for for the non commercial user, there is a whole host of CAA regs to abide by.

Lets not panic yet.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 13:44
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Besides for for the non commercial user, there is a whole host of CAA regs to abide by.
Which none of them will read. Recently in the US the FAA attempts to prosecute a similar UAS operator using their policy statements failed because the judge said they had no legal effect. There is a continuing legal battle in that area. See:

Trappy and the FAA fine for flying over the University of Virginia | Personal Drones

I can assure you that the commercial UAS manufacturers are more worried than you are about their market being killed by someone being silly with a 'toy' UAS. Just wait till after Christmas when the sky is filled with Christmas UAS.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 14:20
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The advent of the drone, currently small expensive and of limited performance, is just the thin end of a potentially very big and dangerous wedge. Just look at the exponential expansion in mobile phone capability to see what can happen and Amazon, for example, are already looking at load carrying drones. Strict regulation is needed NOW to limit the weight, altitude and range of these devices and their operation should strictly licenced.
Like others I can see the threat to commercial aircraft of a bomb laden drone hovering on the glidepath, invisible in cloud or at night. What about the threat to General Aviation? Light aircraft operate mainly in the altitude range achievable by drone devices and the consequences of a collision with one are even more likely to have a serious or catastrophic effect than on a large commercial aircraft.
I would like to see drone operations restricted to a maximum of 250ft agl, day only, with a max weight of half a kilo. Operation should only be allowed to licenced operators and not within 3 miles radius of any airfield or licenced strip. Like a virus, these things are out there now and must be controlled before something seriously bad happens.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 14:45
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777fly - the problem is, how do you even start enforcing that? I can go to HobbyKing right now and get all the parts for a 2kg drone for somewhere around the $200 mark. So can anyone else. Even if the idiots knew that they needed a license (which they wouldn't, because they never have any communication with the CASA/CAA/FAA/EASA at all) they'd ignore it and fly anyway.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of model aircraft pilots are responsible. They fly under 400ft, keep the vehicle within a few hundred metres (because it's hard to see otherwise), and keep a watch out for any traffic that might be in the area.

The people flying drones around full-size aircraft are idiots, and the thing about idiots is that they don't pay a whole lot of attention to anything (like laws, common sense, airliners, crowds of people, etc). Realistically, it'd be nice to have some major penalties that actually get applied (so that people see the potential consequences) but that means finding the pilot - which is again a very difficult thing to do.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 15:13
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The vast majority of "drones" sold in stores are essentially radio controlled model aircraft - there are very few autonomous drones. There are quite strict rules from the CAA on how and where model aircraft can be flown. For example most people flying them in their garden will be breaking the rules on proximity to buildings.

Basic Principles | Aircraft | Operations and Safety

Article 166 of the ANO 2009 (CAP 393: Air Navigation: The Order and the Regulations | Publications | About the CAA) includes specific regulations for small unmanned aircraft and Article 167 of the ANO 2009 includes additional regulations for small unmanned aircraft that are 'equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition'. In summary, they prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying in congested areas, flying close to people or property, flying for aerial work purposes or flying beyond visual line of sight unless permission has been given by the CAA.
See also CAP722 Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK
Airspace – Guidance

CAP 722: Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace - Guidance | Publications | About the CAA

I think it would help if retailers of drones were required to put a summary of the CAA rules in with the product.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 15:41
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Unfortunately, at the average drunken party on the Thames at Richmond, full of 'hooray Henry's' with a great deal more money than sense - it will be a great laugh to fly Marmaduke's new £5000 toy see if they can see into people's back gardens - then see how fast it can go or how high it can go..... what's an extended centre line? We are MILES from Heathrow...

And they wouldn't know an Air Navigation Order if it bit their backsides.

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not someone in an aircraft is going to hit one of these; and I don't think the regulators in Europe or the USA have a handle on how to deal with the problem.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 22:47
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Jammers can be installed in the airports to disrupt the control on all major frequencies used in remote controlled models, but you can still program a drone to fly to a preset GPS waypoint autonomously. As a r/c model enthusiast, i dont see a solution to this problem. If one wanted, he could build a drone capable of seriously damaging an a/c fly it right into a landing a/c, and he would only need a month or a couple months of setup and training so the fact that this hasnt happened yet is just due to terrorists being lazy and narrow-minded.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 23:25
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Yes the problem is I know you know but the average punter has no idea as has been said before untill someone gets one in an engine nothing will be done.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 23:31
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The big difference with modern multi-rotor UAVs is that unlike a conventional model helicopter or model aircraft they can be flown with ease because they are electronically stabilised by inbuilt electronic gyros and with GPS installed will hold position as soon as the controls are released. Therefore, anybody with the money to purchase one, or the bits and the skill to build one, can then fly it with no training whatsoever.

I own a six rotor UAV equipped for high definition filming. It weighs around 8 kgs. with 12" carbon fibre propellers which are like razors. I also happened to have attended the relevant ground school, passed the written exam, taken the flying test so now hold a BNUC-S and CAA permit for aerial work. To get that I also had to write an operations manual which is akin to that for operating a full size aircraft. All told around £10,000 has been spent but it is used for commercial aerial film work.

I am restricted to line of sight operations which is generally accepted as 400' vertically and 500m horizontally from where I am standing. I am also subject to numerous other (sensible) restrictions regarding how close I can fly to people, buildings, etc., etc.

Unfortunately the widespread availability and cheapness of UAVs means that idiots can have a field day. Someone is going to be seriously hurt or worse and then there will be a major clampdown. I just hope that those of us who take the operation of a UAV seriously will escape whatever draconian legislation ensues.

I am sure it is only a matter of time before a terrorist gets in on the act.
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Old 31st Oct 2014, 02:14
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French nuclear power plants

During this month it has been reported that 7 of our nuclear power plants have been overflown by various unknown drones of different sizes.
Sept sites nucléaires d'Electricité de France (EDF) ont été survolés par des drones, de nuit ou très tôt le matin. Le premier a été la centrale de Creys-Malville (Isère) en cours de déconstruction, le 5 octobre.
Les six autres ont été « visités » dans la semaine du 13 au 20 octobre, certains à plusieurs reprises : Blayais (Gironde) le 13, Nogent-sur-Seine (Aube) le 13 et le 19, Cattenom (Moselle) le 14, Chooz (Ardennes) et Gravelines (Nord) le 19, Le Bugey (Ain) le 19 et le 20.
Sur la seule journée du dimanche 19 octobre, ce sont donc quatre installations très éloignées les unes des autres – Le Bugey, Chooz, Gravelines et Nogent-sur-Seine – qui ont été ciblées. En revanche, EDF dément l'information de Greenpeace selon laquelle les centrales de Fessenheim (Haut-Rhin) et du Tricastin (Drôme et Vaucluse) auraient été elles aussi survolées.
What's cooking ???

Les mystérieux drones qui ont survolé sept centrales nucléaires en France
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Old 31st Oct 2014, 11:16
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I read recently, that Sussex Police at Gatwick have obtained an expensive Drone which they intend to fly during incidents or accidents and indeed during training in and around the Airport!

Crowded Skies in the future!
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Old 31st Oct 2014, 12:34
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More about the French drones cited by FlamantRose above from the BBC here:
Air force spokesman Col Jean-Pascal Breton said all the drones involved were small-sized and commercially available and because of their size they were not considered a threat.
On French TV news yesterday evening, a French air-force spokesman also mentionned that "the drones were not detectable by military radar", only by visual observation...?!

The possibilities of who is behind these French drones are almost endless: Al-Qaeda or some other terrorist organisation; hackers trying to discover and eavesdrop on wireless networks operating at the power stations; Google map street view etc.

My own opinion is that it is Amazon.com, experimenting with their drone delivery service in a "controlled-airspace" where all other flying objects should normally NOT be found...?!
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Old 31st Oct 2014, 12:43
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The possibilities of who is behind these French drones are almost endless: Al-Qaeda or some other terrorist organisation; hackers trying to discover and eavesdrop on wireless networks operating at the power stations; Google map street view etc.
Given the going's on with the Siven's barrage at the moment it came as no surprise that French lunchtime TV yesterday had the likes of Greenpeace and/or one of the more militant environmental groups in it's list of usual suspects..as you say the list of possibilities is endless..

Barrage de Sivens - LaDépêche.fr
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