Friday, October 20, 2017, 2:25 pm

Industry leaders to advise on new drone air safety measures

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DUBAI: As drones continue to increase in number and popularity around the world, the aviation industry is working to address the challenges they bring and ensure safety is maintained. This will be one of a number of topics that will be under examination at the World Aviation Safety Summit, which will take place in Dubai on 11 and 12 April this year.

Each month, pilots and air traffic controllers report more than 100 drone sightings to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has been compiling and issuing reports on these encounters. The FAA says such reports have increased since 2014, with more than 1,200 incidents in the U.S. last year.

As a result of these incidents, regulators have been working on formulating rules for how to incorporate commercial drone operations into airspace and trying to inform hobbyists about the dangers that drones can bring. 

From January 2013 to June 2016, 856 reports from seven official sources were found through International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) research on drones, with one suspected and one confirmed collision included.

Drones were reported to be as low as 15 feet and as high as 38,000 feet. IATA has been working closely with ICAO on the topic of safety and drones and has called for states to make citizens aware of what is safe usage of drones.

According to a study developed by GlobAer Partners, a consultancy boutique specialized in Aviation Innovation, the number of mid-air drone collisions and near misses is forecasted to drastically increase by a double-digit multiple within the next 10 years, all things being equal. Arnaud Violland, GlobAer’s Managing Partner, emphasizes that in a context of accelerated and heterogeneous air traffic densification, regulation bodies, operators and manufacturers are all mobilized to deploy the right safety solutions for Commercial Air Traffic, while risk consciousness is progressively raising on the particular vulnerability of General Aviation aircrafts and next-gen “Identified Flying Objects”.

Locally, drones have also caused some disruption in Dubai Airspace. Dubai International Airport was closed for more than hour on October 29 last year when a drone entered its airspace, leading to 22 inbound flights being diverted. Drones are now prohibited within 5km of UAE airports.

 Mohammed Abdulla Ahli, Director General at the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority commented: “It is important that we continue to educate our citizens on the rules around drones to ensure maximum safety in our airspace. Regulations and procedures are helping to minimise the dangers and we are working with industry stakeholders to continue addressing the challenges that drones bring. The World Aviation Safety Summit will be the perfect platform to propose new measures and agree on improved ways of keeping airspaces safe and secure.”

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