Turtles Are A Bigger Threat To Planes Than Drones
” There were 198 airplane-and-turtle collisions, since 1990, according to the federal government’s own databases. Science and statistics (the facts) suggest that there is a wave of baseless mass hysteria articles trying to scare people about drones bringing down airlines. Many experts will also point out that all of the “near miss” reports remain unconfirmed and that drones pose no greater risk than small birds. In fact, planes hit objects all of the time and there is no reason to further regulate hobby drones, if you consider the actual facts and science behind such an idea. Passengers should be more worried about striking one of the 10 billion birds flying in the United States than a small plastic drone.
More airplanes are hit by turtles than drones, since 1990, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. This has even been reported before by Popular Science, so why not ban turtles, call for more turtle regulation, or start a turtle registry? Turtles don’t fly, but this should put the drone hype into perspective. In fact, there has not been a single confirmed case of a drone colliding with an aircraft. The baseless hysteria over drones and “near misses” is misleading law makers and the American public.Using the federal government’s own databases, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the average hobby drone is of any significant threat to commercial aircraft.
Drones are in the news again and there are new calls for more excessive regulation, which seems to be the typical American public and politician knee-jerk reaction (based out of fear and ignorance) to anything these days.
According to a widely cited UAS Safety Analysis study in 2014, the idea of drones posing any more of a threat to aircraft than an average bird is baseless. About 151,305 strikes were recorded in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Wildlife Strike Database, since 1990. Only 9% of these cases resulted in any notable damage to the aircraft and 0.15% resulted in an injury or fatality. The expert opinion, based on aviation, engineering, and statistics, was that an unintentional impact between a drone and aircraft is extremely unlikely.
The velocity of the commercial aircraft is much higher than a consumer hobby drone. A small hobby drone colliding with a commercial aircraft’s body would be insignificant because the kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the collision velocity.
The average consumer hobby drone cannot fly at the speeds and altitudes of commercial aircraft. Meteorologically, winds can exceed 75 mph around at jet stream altitudes (~30,000 feet), which would prohibit drone operation at those heights. The temperature at such an altitude would also cause problems for the average drone, rendering it inoperable. Passengers should not be concerned about hobby drones taking down their flight at cruising altitude.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently interviewed George Morse, a leading expert on foreign-object damage to aircraft. Morse runs a company that does engineering tests on foreign-object damage, such as nuts, bolts, birds, etc. He says drones are less threatening than birds because they don’t fly in flocks. Morse also mentions that most drones would probably break apart if they hit an engine. Morse also says the most important consideration is where the drone hits the engine and the speed of the turbines at the time of the strike. The conclusion was that hobby grade drones are not a significant threat to aircraft, in comparison to bird strikes.”