Freighters begin to encounter nuisance UAS

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Quadcopter drone hovering

Pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, according to the US government’s Federal Aviation Administration and freighters have also encountered them.

According to the FAA’s latest list of pilot, air traffic and citizen reports of possible encounters with drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), on the 26 January a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400, registration 7962, encountered a UAS. In the vicinity of Los Angeles International Airport, a UAS that was black and yellow in colour was seen by the Singapore pilots at about 1,000 feet.

The list’s reports were compiled from 13 November last year to 20 August 2015. The FAA states that pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, from a total of 238 sightings in all of 2014, to more than 650 by 9 August of this year. The FAA says: “Because pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, the FAA wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.”

In the last 12 months the numbers of UAS being seen by pilots has increased substantially, according to the FAA. It says, pilots reported 16 unmanned aircraft in June last year and 36 in July, while this year, in June, 138 pilots reported seeing drones at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet, and another 137 in July.

According to the aviation regulator, it is working with law enforcement to identify and investigate unauthorised unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA says it has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorised flights in various parts of the US and has dozens of open enforcement cases.

The drone picture provided with this story is an unmanned aircraft that can be purchased by anyone online, it is not a drone type that has been identified as being spotted by any pilots.