Monday, January 05, 2015

Pilots have encountered drones six times in the past seven months in Massachusetts

In the past seven months, there have been six incidents in Massachusetts involving close encounters between drones and pilots of various aircraft, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The data was released last November as the FAA continued to review regulations around drones, which have been become increasingly popular among hobbyists. The FAA had previously said it would release new rules governing drones this year, but that plan has since stalled. The agency that regulates the American civil aviation industry now says it won't have drone rules set until 2017 at the earliest.

The FAA said it receives about 25 reports per month from pilots who have seen unmanned aircraft or model aircraft operating nearby. The reports range from unmanned aircraft sightings without impact to other pilots and aircraft, to on a few occasions, pilots altering course to avoid an unmanned aircraft, although the reports in Massachusetts only involve sightings of the aircraft.

In some cases, the incidents were reported to the FAA and the Massachusetts State Police, but the results of the investigation were not immediately available.

Here are the six incidents, three of which took place in Boston (most of these took place in the summer):

Oct. 31, 2014 2:56 p.m., Bedford: The pilot of a Piper aircraft reported a white drone at 2,700 feet near Bedford. No conflicts were reported. The local police department was contacted via 911.

Aug. 28, 2014, 6:58 p.m., Falmouth: The pilot of a Gulfstream reported a drone with "green lights" at around 7,500 feet in the air 25 miles from Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station.

Aug. 23, 2014, 3:36 p.m., Boston: An Air Wisconsin flight reported a "small metallic" drone passing the opposite direction at 1,000 feet while approaching the runway at Logan Airport. Massachusetts State Police dispatched a helicopter but didn't find any sign of a drone.

Aug. 9, 2014, 2:15 p.m., Worcester: A plane encountered a drone at 3,500 feet, 500 to 1,000 feet off the right side of the aircraft. No evasive action was required. The pilot described the drone as being "4 to 5 feet in length, gray in color.

July 21, 2014, 7:53 p.m., Boston: A pilot reported a drone with a 10 to 15-foot wingspan passing 1,000 to 1,500 feet below heading southbound. No conflict was reported.

May 30, 2014, 5:15 p.m., Boston: A pilot of a MedFlight helicopter leaving Tufts Medical Center reported a drone at 500 feet. No evasive action was taken.


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