Airbus Reports Near Miss With Drone

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A Lufthansa Airbus A380 reported a close call with a drone near Los Angeles International Airport Friday afternoon, prompting local law enforcement to search for the operator. The crew notified the FAA of an unmanned aircraft flying 200 feet above the jet about 14 miles east of the airport at 5,000 feet, the Los Angeles Times reported. Sheriff and police helicopters conducted a search, but authorities weren't optimistic they would find the responsible party, according to the report. California has seen the highest number of near misses with drones compared to other states, most of them near LAX, the Times reported last year. 

Concerns over safety have prompted members of Congress to urge the FAA to tighten regulations for drone flying, and some have expressed fears over a catastrophic airliner-drone collision. Meanwhile, conflicting reports on the magnitude of the problem continue to surface in the media. Among the latest is a study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which says the risk to aircraft from small drones is "minimal." The study looked at drones weighing 2 kilograms or 4.5 pounds, and compared them to bird strikes using FAA reports over 25 years. Out of billions of birds flying around the nation's airspace, most collisions with aircraft don't result in damage, while injuries are rarer still, the study said. It estimates that for drones, "one damaging incident will occur no more than every 1.87 million years" of flight time, while injuries or fatalities would happen "once every 187 million years of operation. This appears to be an acceptable risk to the airspace."

Comments (4)

For the love of George Carlin, and the sanctity of professional journalism, can we please refer to these events as near-collisions?

Posted by: Anthony A | March 20, 2016 6:42 PM    Report this comment

There's a serous flaw in the George Mason University study.

Birds, to one degree or another, practice "see & avoid". Drones, especially at 5,000MSL, do not. Also, most birds fly in flocks. Flocks are easier to spot than a lone drone. And one last thing, the people who fly drones at 5,000 don't care about the rules, or the risk they pose to anyone else.

There is no question doubt that a collision will occur. Only a matter of when.

Posted by: Michael Dean | March 21, 2016 9:51 AM    Report this comment

If you listen to the liveatc feed for the time of this sighting it is basically a stream of reports of a bunch of balloons at the same altitude and range as the "object" reported by the lufthansa flight.

Posted by: Ryan Dewsbury | March 21, 2016 5:42 PM    Report this comment

If you listen to the Liveatc feed at the time this drone incident occured you will find that everyone else on that approach reported seeing balloons.

Posted by: Ryan Dewsbury | March 21, 2016 5:44 PM    Report this comment

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