US government officials’ grave warnings that drones could cause a disaster above the nation’s airports are overstated, a study by George Mason University has found.
We’re told birds are a much bigger threat to aircraft than folks’ unmanned aerial systems (UASs).
“We estimate that 6.12 x 10−6 collisions will cause damage to an aircraft for every 100,000 hours of 2kg UAS flight time. Or to put it another way, one damaging incident will occur no more than every 1.87 million years of 2kg UAS flight time,” the authors note.
“We further estimate that 6.12 x 10−8 collisions that cause an injury or fatality to passengers on board an aircraft will occur every 100,000 hours of 2kg UAS flight time, or once every 187 million years of operation.”
The study looked at recorded bird strikes on American aircraft since 1990, and the incidence of actual injury to passengers. Over the time period, 389 people have been injured by a bird strike, although 100 of those came from a single event when US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to land in the Hudson River.
As for fatalities, there have been only 12 in the last 25 years due to animal impacts, and only one of those was on a commercial airliner. The rest were helicopters, experimental and vintage aircraft, or smaller propeller-driven planes.
Full story: The Register