Report: Drone-Airplane Conflicts Are Rare

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A recent FAA report about a rapid increase in drone sightings near aircraft may have caused alarm, but according to an analysis by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, few of those sightings represented any threat. In a review of the 764 reports compiled by the FAA, the AMA found that only 27, or 3.5 percent, of the records were “legitimately reported ‘close calls’ and ‘near misses.’” Most of the reports were just “sightings,” the AMA said in a news release on Monday. The AMA analysis also found that all of the actual crashes in the FAA database involved drones operated by the military. No midair collisions were reported.

At its website, the AMA says that “while AMA works closely with the FAA … in promoting model aircraft and consumer drone safety, our report concludes that the FAA could have done a better job of presenting their data in a more factually accurate manner.” The FAA used “misleading language” in its news release, the AMA said, and failed to critically analyze the data in its report. The AMA asked the FAA to do a better job of investigating reports and analyzing its data. “Once you have better analysis,” the agency can better decide on what actions to take, Hanson said, “whether that becomes more educational, legislative, or regulatory.”