Drone and Airliner Nearly Collide in Florida, Pushes FAA to Expedite UAV Regulations


While the FAA is yet to receive the full legal authority over the regulation of drones or UAVs or quadcopters or whatever you want to call them, a recent incident involving a drone and commercial jet might just help them speed up the process to establishing legislation as to when and where these UAVs can fly.

According to FAA administrator Jim Williams, this past March, a drone nearly hit a US Airways jet in Florida, coming close enough to concern the pilot about potential damage to the plane. The drone was said to be violating rules by flying at an altitude of 2,300 feet, when the legal limit 400 feet.

Using the incident as leverage to gain control of the regulation of these machines, Williams said, “the FAA has got to be responsive to the entire industry,” adding that, “the results could be catastrophic [if such an incident were to happen].”


With or without these incidents, the FAA has planned to put into effect rules for commercial drones this coming November. However, as Engadget points out, it could be years before these rules are actually implemented, leaving the use of drones as ambiguous as ever.

It’s a slippery slope, that much can be agreed upon almost universally. All we can hope for in the meantime is diligent use by consumers and proper implementation of regulations by lawmakers.

(via CNN via Engadget)

Image credits: Header image in the public domain. Drone image by aleXwire

  • Ichiro Ashihara

    Did they find the pilot of the R/C? This incident won’t help the FAA argument since there already is a regulation around airports and I hope they throw the book at the pilot of the multi rotor.

  • Woody ONeal

    Once again, someone has to go and screw it up for everyone.

  • mlianopr

    Always there’s a stupid…! who screw it up!

  • Ian

    I have been supportive of drones, but this happened over the town I live in (Tallahassee) and the drone have gone in an engine and killed everyone on board and leveled my neighborhood, so I’m not feeling the same way anymore. I hope they lock up this SOB and come up with some common sense rules for drones so that responsible people can use them and idiots like this can go to prison.

  • OtterMatt

    - Excerpt from “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things; Volume 652″

  • pxlated

    Airliners are designed to withstand large bird strikes (geese, etc), the average remote controlled helicopter probably has the volume of a pigeon and a lot less density. If the pilot didn’t see it, he/she probably wouldn’t even know they hit one.
    That’s not to say the idiot that flew it at that altitude in a flyway shouldn’t be punished but to say it’s very dangerous and could potentially bring down an airliner is probably way overstating the situation.
    Of course, the FAA will use anything to expand their control over anything airborne.

  • Ian

    Yeah, I don’t like the power grab here, but can see the danger as well. In this era of much regulation, I fear gov’t will win over freedom and common sense.

  • Jason Wright

    As was mentioned there already ARE rules preventing idiots doing this near airports.
    This person was breaking the existing rules so more regulation won’t help in this sort of situation. As usual the criminals will do what they want while the law abiding citizen will get bogged down in red tape just to open their front door.

    There is no excuse for endangering the public in this way with a drone, support drones, support *sensible* regulation, don’t support idiots.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Flight 1594 (the plane that landed in the Hudson) was taken down by Geese. It depends where they hit. No reason to take a chance with it.

  • pxlated

    But, it wasn’t one goose, it was a flock hitting both engines. So, yes, depending on the numbers and situation, geese can bring one down. The chances of one small remote quadricopter doing anything is probably remote.

  • dorn

    I am skeptical of this “near collision”.

    Can a pilot really notice such a small, slow moving thing? The airplane is moving a high rate of speed and even the biggest of the “drones” are not that big. Are there tools on the plane to detect small flying objects?

    Seems odd to me.

  • Burnin Biomass

    If it gets into the engine, its not that remote. The flock took out both engines, but loosing just one is dangerous.

    “Even smaller birds, such as starlings (which the committee’s Web site refers to as “feathered bullets” due to their density), can cause engine failure.”

  • JonathonWatkins

    Large Lithium ion battery going into the engine anyone? That is a large explosion just waiting to happen.

  • pxlated

    Anything’s possible if it ingests just right.

  • Chang He

    Geese don’t have large lithium batteries inside. Most of the time.

  • ryfter

    Lithium Iron batteries tend to burn, not explode. I’m pretty sure that a battery in that situation is the least of the concerns.

  • ryfter

    I’m an RC pilot, and I really want to get into Drones. The problem I see here, is that the RC pilot was WAY out of bounds. He was way out of the legal bounds of RC flight. Heck, I don’t even know if any of my equipment could get that high and remain in contact, let alone be seen by an airliner. This pilot is a complete moron for flying that high, let alone, in a flight path. There are already a lot of restrictions for RC flight, and this RC Pilot was obviously not following any of them, either.

    The common sense rules are already on the books for RC pilots. A drone is also considered an RC aircraft. They have to follow the same rules. How often do you hear about any other RC aircraft coming close to planes?

  • OtterMatt

    Radar really isn’t much use at that size, and visibility is extremely hard. It’s hard to see a private plane at more than a mile or two, and something the size of a bird is usually not visible outside of a thousand feet or so unless you’ve got a background with good contrast to the obstacle.

  • Matt

    2,300 ft, can the current drones get that high? I’d like to get more details of the incident and some info on the drone before I’d say this really happened.
    I’am not saying that there is no problem, just that it seems unlikely that it actually happend the way it is reported.

  • niXerKG

    If anyone read the CNN article they’d find out it was a Scale R/C F-4 Phantom and the plane was a small 50 passenger plane.

  • pxlated

    MIGHT be a problem – I suppose you could come up with a million potential – Yawn

  • Halfrack

    I really wish the media would figure out how to separate the different sizes and classes of drones – the last thing we need to have is a bunch of quad-copter photographers mixed in with military pilots flying full sized planes. If this was shaped like an F-4 and was flying at 2,300 ft, I’m going to bet it wasn’t a photographer trying to get a better view. That level of drone needs to be in special airspace, not to be lumped in with the quad-copter community.

  • ThatGuy

    By the time I get a cool quad it will be illegal to fly anywhere. Thanks asshole. (whoever you are)

  • Sasha Ivantic

    A drone at 2.300 feet? Sure it wasn’t a UFO? Seems more plausible.

  • Mike

    No he screwed it up for himself. Penalties were supposed to be invisioned for violators, not to punish all.

  • Andrew Read

    Pilots need to be respectful and stop ruining it for everyone else! If you are going to fly that high, INFORM those that it might concern! (That’s really impressive though how high he got that thing!) Wherever you use it, be respectful of those around you and inform the appropriate people that it might concern. That would really save a lot of havoc.