As Mark Twain once said:
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
With recent comments from the Minister of Transport in Canada regarding the number of drone incidents this seems all too true. In the Minister’s recent statement on the Quebec City drone incident it was stated:
For 2017, to date 1,596 drone incidents have been reported to the department. Of these, 131 are deemed to have been of aviation safety concern.
For those involved in the UAV industry these numbers came as a bit of a surprise, as the UAS Task Force had been stating 74 incidents to date as of Q2 2017:
A search on UAV related reports in CADORS showed only around 227 filings to date for 2017.
For further clarification on these numbers we reached out to Transport Canada via Twitter. The following was their response:
The # of incidents comes from TC’s reporting tool and includes complaints not related to aviation safety. http://ow.ly/OaQz30fWDB2
So basically the 1,596 is based on all submissions via the online public reporting tool. These are unverified and appear unreviewed as best we can tell and could cover any and all types of complaints from noise, privacy, safety, to merely someone not liking drones and wanting them stopped filing multiple submissions over and over potentially.
While we have no direct issue with the reporting tool, the fact that the number of submissions, which includes non aviation related issues, was quoted in the context of a possible incident with an aircraft is a concern, as it provides a misleading representation of reality on issues that have no bearing on drones and manned aircraft.
It is unfortunate that such data is being misrepresented with no clear definition of the source or the reliability of the information.