The past few days the media has been filled with stories of the Oct 12th reported collision between a drone and a passenger aircraft, as outlined in this CBC story, one of many now being published world wide.
As Per the CADORS report:
A Beech A100 operated by Sky Jet (C-GJBV / SJ512), flying from Schefferville (CYKL), QC, to Quebec City / Jean Lesage (CYQB) QC, struck a drone on the nose of the aircraft at 7 miles in the final runway 24 to 2400 ft. The extent of the damage is unknown. The aircraft landed safely.
With the story comes a number of points that need be considered, as many run off in the direction of the worst case scenario.
- Was the report confirmed as a drone? To date we have seen no physical evidence and as has been seen in the past, such as the case in the UK where the drone turned out to be a plastic bag, things are not always as they first appear.
- If it was in fact a drone, this would only be the second confirmed case worldwide, the first being the recent accident in the US with the Blackhawk helicopter. While some may say any incident is one too many, given the number of drones being used the actual accidents have basically been nil.
- As with the Blackhawk incident, no injuries were reported and both aircraft were able to land with only minor damage. Again if this was a drone the damaged caused seems to be minimal and not the horror story that some have predicted.
- The Minister reports that there have been 1,596 drone incidents to date for 2017 in Canada. However CADORS only shows 227 cases and recent reports from the new UAS Task Force that is part of Transport Canada reported only 74 as of Q2 2017. We are curious as to the variations in numbers being mentioned.
- If this was an actual drone incident it is in violations of the current regulations. Either a recreational flight outside the altitude limits and distances to an aerodrome or a commercial flight that did not do proper coordination with ATC. In either case adding more laws will not solve the problem, it is already an illegal operations. What is needed is more education and more enforcement of the regulations we have now, not more laws that some will always choose to ignore.
At the end of the day incidents like this help no one, it gives drones a bad name in the eyes of the public and it causes knee jerk reactions from regulators. However we need to consider the facts and not make judgement until all the details are known, or we may have another case of a plastic bag, but the public never see that, they merely remember the Minister crying foul against drones.
We all have a responsibility to fly safe, educate others, and to provide clear, correct information on issues like this and also the good drones do. For every reported incident there are thousands of flights daily that are uneventful, many serving to grow the economy or the pure enjoyment of users.