I am a strong supporter of having drones fly for good commercial businesses. See my article on EDN Drone design: An electronics designer’s point of view Part one.
However, the recent reports of at least 650 drone sightings to date by airline pilots in the vicinity of airports as compared to 238 in all of 2014 has me worried.
When an expert pilot like Captain Chesley Sullenberger or “Sulley” as we called him in NY, now a safety consultant for the FAA, goes on the record saying that a drone “could do great damage and could be catastrophic” to an aircraft landing at 150 to 200 mph, then I listen—especially as a fairly frequent flyer that I am.
It’s time the FAA does something quickly, without banning drones commercially, which will not help at all but will hurt sorely needed industry growth in this country. The FAA only has weak rules, almost impossible to enforce.
It’s time that technology steps in. Some ideas might be the FAA setting and enforcing “no-fly” zones using technology that can disable the remote control signal, especially near airports and in the flight path. I’m thinking something like 5G is planning with electronically steerable antennas and sensors that can detect and lock onto a remote control (R/C) signal like a fighter jet missile on a “bogey”. This could be costly, of course, but how about a tax on any commercial companies that use drones for business?
Some suggest that drones be equipped with programming that protects the zones, but right after we do that, an article will appear on the internet showing how to disable that.
What do you think? We need EEs to step up to the plate and weigh in to keep our skies safe.