According to the pilots of a Lufthansa jet landing at Los Angeles International Airport Friday, there was a Drone within a few hundred feet of their jet as they approached LAX to land. This has become news as the latest run in between UAV’s and commercial aviation vehicles.

lax airport drone collision

The pilot, reported that the drone passed overhead around 1:30pm, this information came from the spokesman for the FAA, Ian Gregor. It makes me wonder how the pilot could possibly identify a small 2 foot drone while flying at 300 or more miles an hour when approaching Los Angeles, much less tell that it was within 200 feet of his plane when they’re at 5000 feet? These types of sightings and unverified accusations against the drone community are definitely goint to cause problems when the FAA decides how exactly they’re going to be regulating drones in the future. Keep up to date on FAA Drone regulations at our regularly updated Drone Rules and Regulations USA post.

After the sighting, the police in Los Angeles were put on the lookout for the drone. But there was no immediate success in finding neither pilot nor drone. The airplane was flying at 5,000 feet and was about 14 miles east of the airport which would have put it over some densely populated suburban areas in the L.A. Suburbs.

According to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “This is one more incident that could have brought down an airliner, and it’s completely unacceptable. A near-miss of 200 feet should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by reckless drone use.”

It’s these kind of statements by Senators and other legislatures without really having all the facts that worry me when it comes to U.S. Drone legislation and how it’s going to affect our ability to fly freely.

Although I do have to admit I am also worried about the odd drone pilot out there who doesn’t really know where he’s flying in relation to nearby major airports and puts his drone in front of a 747 coming in for a landing. If you live near a major airport you’re going to need to be aware of where that airport is in relation to where you’re flying and keep yourself at a low enough altitude to not be in the way. This isn’t always easy to be aware of, but please, if you value your freedom to fly that drone, be aware of your surroundings!

Senator Feinstein introduced legislation last year that will ask the FAA to create rules about where and how high you’re going to be able to fly your drone, and require new drones to have safety features like collision avoidance software. I for one would love to have my drones have collission avoidance software to all sides, not just when it’s flying forward like the Phantom 4.

There have been concerns expressed by Government officials like Senator Feinstein that if a drone were to enter the engine of a commercial Jet, or hit the windshield or some other critical structure, the jet could crash. There was a recent article here that debunks this idea, but no one can really be sure until something like this actually happens and it becomes better understood how a drone would affect a passenger or commercial plane.

The fact remains that there have been no confirmed collisions between jets and multirotors yet. There was information released in a report last year that claims there were at least 240 reports of close misses with multirotor hobby aircraft and other full size aircraft.

It seems to me that those of us in the drone community need to be very careful about where and when we’re flying, be aware of altitude restrictions and keep your aircraft under your control. These types of incidences can only pile up for so long before an RC multirotor finally does hit an aircraft and depending on what happens in that collision we may all be under a lot more government control after that happens.

Be careful and Be aware of where you’re flying out there!

There are 2 comments:

  • Bobo Solinski at 5:38 pm

    Feinstein is an aged NSA tool. She needs to be replaced. She has become John Ashcroft.

  • Glenn Edgar at 5:00 am

    Great well reasoned report. The drone pilot should be flogged — it’s not THAT hard to know that LAX is relatively nearby. There are places where the 400′ limit makes loads on sense, like near a major airport, and others where the danger at any altitude is minuscule. In the boonies. Near LAX it makes lots of sense.

    200′ is 2/3 of a football field, and positively identifying a quadrocopter at 5,000′ at 300kts, at this distance would be hard. So it might have been closer! But a DJI Phantom sized drone is VERY unlikely to cause major damage, yet alone crashing a major airliner. The emergency landing in the Hudson was caused by a flock of birds entering both engines. Not one bird. A Phantom could shut easily shut down a jet engine, but there’s another. Hit nearly any other part of the aircraft, and it’s a dent. Could one penetrate the cockpit windscreen? I don’t know, but it would not be a direct blow, and that’s a really small target.

    Knee jerk hysterical statements by lawmakers is typical. Cooler heads usually prevail but incidents like these hurt our cause. And getting one up there at 5000′ near LAX right now could be done by a beginner in the afternoon of the day Fed Ex dropped it off.

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