FAA Offers its Latest Batch of ‘Reported UAS Sightings’

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released its most recent compilation of “Reported UAS Sightings,” which covers the time span of Aug. 22, 2015, through Jan. 31, 2016.

The agency describes the report as an “updated list of pilot, air traffic controller and citizen reports of possible encounters with unmanned aircraft systems,” as opposed to its description of “pilot reports of close calls with drones,” which was released last August and included 765 entries from November 2014 to August 2015.

“Reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically since 2014. Safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System is one of the FAA’s top priorities, and the agency wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal,” the FAA says.

The agency’s newest spreadsheet lists 583 incidents – some of which are, indeed, only “possible” encounters.

On Aug. 28, 2015, for instance, a “DAL1086 MD90 reported a large bird or drone 2 miles east of LGA.” On Jan. 22, “TWY60 reported passing over a possible drone while on a 3-4 mile final.”

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) – which issued its own analysis of last year’s FAA data and said many reports did not warrant their label of a “near miss” – says it is “pleased to see the FAA more accurately characterize its recent drone data as ‘sightings’ and ‘reports’ rather than the more inflammatory terminology that was used last summer.”

AMA notes that a “more definitive analysis of the data is needed to separate out the lawful operations from those that pose a true safety concern,” the group says in a blog post.

“AMA will closely review the latest dataset of drone sightings. It is critical that the data be carefully analyzed given the timely conversations on Capitol Hill about UAS policies.”

Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, adds, “The FAA’s latest list of unverified reports includes many instances where pilots and people on the ground simply mentioned seeing drones in the air.

“We want to ensure the public and policymakers put these reports in context with the millions of flight hours that drones safely navigate through airspace for businesses, farms, hobbyists, photographers and government agencies. Many of those drones have helped save lives in situations involving fires, floods and missing people,” he explains.

The FAA’s “Reported UAS Sightings” spreadsheets can be accessed here.


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