UAV Crashes Raise Safety Concerns

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Several crashes this year of unmanned aerial vehicles have raised questions about their safety, as the drone aircraft continue to proliferate. According to a USA Today story this week, a Customs and Border Protection Predator B drone, which is 36 feet long with a max weight of 10,000 pounds, crashed within several hundred feet of homes in Arizona on April 25; a prototype of a 2,000-pound tilt-rotor crashed during tests April 5 in Texas; and a 3-pound drone carrying cameras crashed while being demonstrated for the media by a Los Angeles County sheriff on June 16, a flight that took place without FAA permission. Both the Air Line Pilots Association and AOPA have said safety protocols for UAVs are inadequate. "We are sharing airspace where we are assured that a certain level of safety is being met, and yet there is no level of safety for these UAVs," Heidi Williams, air traffic services director for AOPA, told USA Today.