President Donald Trump Air Force jet had a near collision with a small drone on Sunday as it approached an airbase near Washington. Several passengers on board sighted the drone as it flew extremely close to the Presidents plane. While this may have been an innocent drone hobbyist, the increased use of advanced, commercially available drones has strengthened the threat of terrorism to homeland security—insurgents, conducting complex operations against high-profile targets.

Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Drone-related Incidents on the Rise

As civilian drones have seen a rapid gain in popularity and accessibility, drone-related incidents have increased accordingly. While there has only been one recorded case of a passenger plane downed by a drone to date, close encounters have become relatively commonplace. 

Although most civilian operated drones are not capable of bringing down a jet, they do have the potential to inflict severe damage to the windshield of the cockpit or an engine. In 2018 alone, three major airports were shut down, in the case of Gatwick operations were halted for three days when the airport was plagued with a drone entering the airspace of the airport’s no-flight zone. Yet there are only 2 or 3 airports out of 7,000 commercial airports to have implemented anti-drone systems.

While aviation authorities have taken steps to implement new regulations, there is still a long way to go if they want to make a serious impact on minimizing drone threats. Without installing anti-drone systems, airports remain sitting ducks.

With the market heading towards the widespread use of drone delivery services in cities and urban areas, municipal authorities need to address the potential threats before allowing their skies to overflow with low flying UAS.  Cities will face further challenges to create an airspace regulatory framework to secure aerial mobility network, to manage flight paths, minimise congestion and prevent unauthorised drones from posing a threat to public safety. 

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