With thousands of recreational drones in the sky at any given moment, air safety experts agree that a major drone-aircraft collision is just a matter of time.
According to a report published by the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), over 92 incidents were recorded in 2017 alone, compared with 71 in 2016 and just 29 in 2015. In the US, The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was signed into law on Oct. 5th, placing more stringent rules on drone operators and enabling Law Enforcement and HLS to exercise appropriate counter-drone measures in the event of sufficient risks to public safety. The Federal Aviation Administration has estimated that the number of recreational drones will triple to 3.55 million by 2021, so the risk of drone collisions is expected to increase exponentially.
A number of issues factor into making this such a serious danger that’s only likely to grow with time. Drones are small; sometimes the size of toy planes. Simple models are cheap, with some going for as low as $60. They’re easy to operate. It’s not nearly as easy to know when and where a helicopter is supposed to be airborne, so even professional drone operators often have trouble staying out of harm’s way. A recent study found that a drone weighing 2kg could critically damage a plane windscreen in the event of a mid-air collision.
Some tests have suggested that drone collisions could be more damaging than “bird strikes,” which happen when birds collide with an airplane and damage its engine. All of these facts are extremely troubling and one (of many) reasons that the FAA has mandated the registration of new drones.
Helicopters are also susceptible to drone collisions or attacks. Since they fly at a much lower altitude than planes this considerably increases the chances of drone collisions from amateur drone operators that usually fly their drones at lower heights. Helicopter operators have only begun to fully understand the extent of threats posed by drones to their aircraft during commercial or civilian flights.
The SAFE SKIES Drone Detection System detects drones within a 1km radius, displays their location, and indicates the direction from which they are approaching, and provides the pilot an early warning, ensuring they have sufficient time to avoid a collision. It provides helicopter pilots advanced warning of incoming drones, helping prevent collisions by incorporating 3 primary components:
- The SD receiver gathers RF signals from the system’s antennas.
- The SDR analyzes all incoming signals to detect approaching drones.
- The system identifies the incoming drone, highlighting its location on the display and allowing the helicopter to avoid a collision.
The system is expected to become a conventional device for negating the drone collision threat for private and military helicopters within the coming years.