Drone v. Airplane: A Near Miss in Canada

For the past several years, people have been warning that it is only a matter of time before there is a serious incident involving an unmanned aircraft and a large commercial passenger plane. While there have been reports of sightings of UAS by airliners near airports, none of these events have resulted in injuries. This has led some to say that the threat to manned aircraft by UAS is largely overblown. Unfortunately, today we have a reminder that the risks are real, and that as UAS are integrated into the National Airspace System, everyone has to take safety issues seriously.

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board has announced that it is investigating an incident on Monday that resulted in the injury of two persons on a Porter Airlines flight from Ottawa to Toronto. The plane was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision with what the flight crew believes was a UAS that crossed its path when the aircraft was making a landing at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. The two injuries were to flight crew, who were up securing the cabin for landing when the aircraft made its sudden dive.

Canadian transportation authorities are taking the matter very seriously, and have promised to speed up the issuance of their own comprehensive UAS regulations, which are expected to be released for public comment sometime in the spring of 2017. In the meantime, Canadian authorities are going to be stepping up their public education campaign to address the steadily increasing number of serious UAS interactions with aircraft. The Canadian Pilot’s Association is also pushing for Canadian authorities to implement a system of UAS registration for Canada similar to what the FAA put into place last year.

This incident once again shows that the need to educate the public is never ending. Given the way the technology is proliferating around the world, there continues to be an influx of people conducting aeronautical activities who do not have an understanding of how the system works or what is unsafe.

Originally posted November 15, 2016

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