Airliner-Drone Near Miss Spurring FAA to Clamp Down on UAVs

It's come to light that a small drone almost collided with a US Airways jetliner in Florida in March—and it's enough to spur the FAA to further clamp down on the use of UAVs.

According to Jim Williams, head of the FAA's unmanned-aircraft office, the UAV came so close to the jetliner that the pilot was initially convinced there would be damage as he approached the Tallahassee airport. The drone, which appeared to be the size of a small model aircraft, was flying 2,300 feet above the ground. That's rather higher than the 400 feet limit that the FAA requires small types of unmanned aircraft to remain below.

The incident is cause for concern at the administration. "[The issue] can't get any more important to the FAA than it is today," Williams told sUAS News, adding that the incident could have proved "catastrophic." He went on to explain that the FAA is planning to propose new rules in November about how small drones can be used legally for commercial purposes, to "ensure that risks are managed appropriately."

The FAA and lawmaking being what it is, through,this process could well take years—so don't worry about a clampdown arriving any time soon. [sUAS News via CNN via Engadget]

Image by Lee under Creative Commons license.