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New drone-meets-helicopter incidents may spur tighter airspace rules

February 16, 2018

Collisions and near-misses are renewing concerns about hobbyist drone pilots getting in the way of larger aircraft.

Two crashes: A helicopter crashed in South Carolina this week, allegedly because it had to maneuver to avoid a drone. (It may be the first drone-related crash in the US.) Elsewhere, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a helicopter-drone collision that happened last week in Hawaii.

Why it matters: Bloomberg points out that simulations by the FAA suggest that drone collisions are more dangerous than bird strikes to larger aircraft (blame the metal parts). Meanwhile, the number of drones being flown is quickly increasing.

What next: Currently, US drone pilots are supposed to keep their small aircraft below 400 feet, in line of sight, and away from airplanes and helicopters. But another Bloomberg article explains that aviation authorities are lobbying for tighter rules to avoid further collisions.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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