How regulation must keep up with the pace of drone development

Regulations must match the pace of development in remotely piloted aircraft systems
On April 28, 2015, the pilot of Virgin America flight 769 from New York to Dallas reported a quadcopter— a drone or remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS)—rising above it as it approached Love Field.

The plane landed safely, but RPAS incidents are a growing concern for commercial aviation.

There was a Class A incident at Heathrow in July last year, for example, meaning a near collision. The drone came close to an A320 while flying at 700 feet. And in January 2015, Dubai suspended operations for a time—at significant cost to the airlines and with major inconvenience to passengers—owing to an unknown drone operating in the vicinity.

The RPAS sector is growing fast and covers everything from high street toys to sophisticated military machinery. Its uses are equally varied and include leisure, advertising and search and rescue.

“The technology is developing quickly, and we could see remote aircraft the same size as a Boeing 737 being operated commercially in our skies within 10 years,” says Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airlines Pilots’ Association.

How the development of RPAS integrates into commercial air traffic management is, therefore, a question that must be answered quickly and comprehensively. Read more..