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    • A few years ago, I was fond of taking visitors on helicopter tours of SF. There was a particular pilot I flew with many times. You get to fly low over the city, through the spans of the Golden Gate Bridge, under the bridge... It's incredible.

      Apparently it takes a zillion hours of flying to be licensed to fly where they do.

      He said that in all his years of flying, he felt in control of the variables until the age of drones. He believed that if a drone struck his tail rotor, that had the potential to bring him down. The drones fly everywhere he does and at his altitude, so the only thing to do was fly slowly, watch like a hawk and hope.

    • What do you think? Do you have a clever idea for detecting or intercepting malicious drones? Or are we doomed?

      The radar cross section (RCS) of a drone is roughly the size of some species of birds.

      We have radars that can pick up these slow-moving targets, but we don't park them in front of most major civilian airports due to the expense.

      If we have a couple of incidents with collisions that kill or injure, I'd bet the money would be made available to procure these for major airports in this country.

    • Interesting! Makes sense. But once we've detected a drone, what do we do about it?

      Flight operations would still have to be shut down, and tracking the drone itself via radar wouldn't necessarily make it any easier to locate the drone operator. And the FAA recommends against countermeasures that could cause the drone or projectiles fired at it to fall to the ground. So a single drone hovering over a runway could still potentially shut down a major airport for hours.

      I guess maybe we could deploy a hunter-seeker drone to capture the invader drone in a net and carry it to a safe place? 🤔

    • I'd think best combat would be via radio intercept and interference with their base, unless programmed to independently fly, which is unusual. So in US at least, FCC may have allot more say than FAA over the misbehaving of drones, once their build standards are officialized. It's starting to look as if allot more will depend on Bezos divorce. 😋 

    • I'd think best combat would be via radio intercept and interference with their base, unless programmed to independently fly, which is unusual.

      Back in my days of employment, I worked with a couple of individuals who were pretty big into drones.

      Most of the 'heavy-duty' ones had smarts built into them so they could 'fly home' to a given lat/long point where the flight originated.

      One individual in particular was getting HD resolution video from his from two or three miles out. The device would sense a certain battery level, then would go into 'fly home' mode...only taking a few minutes, apparently.

      So, if the drones that are creating aviation hazards to flights with humans, how much radio power - and on what frequencies - are you going to jam that signal?

    • So, if the drones that are creating aviation hazards to flights with humans, how much radio power - and on what frequencies - are you going to jam that signal?

      All great questions, for those who make the big $$$ ;-)

      To my mind, I think they should be easier to contain than the flying flock of geese at LaGuardia, several years back, or other birds. Maybe the plane design should also be enhanced to protect the motors from entering debris.

    • All great questions, for those who make the big $$$ ;-)

      Yet, it will be the politicians that will screw it up enough that a fully feasible technical solution just won't work.

      (the commercial aircraft itself should be the generator of the jamming signal during landing and takeoff, but only if signals are received by the aircraft. No signals? No jamming required.)

    • One thing I have to say is I'm astonished at the safety we've been able to achieve with air travel. Oh my God. So many flights, such bad weather, so many chances for human error with air traffic control, pilots, mechanics, complex equipment, aging planes, people of malicious intent. And yet. And that's a case where governments had a lot to do with it.

    • "The aviation administration limits amateur drone flights to an altitude of 400 feet and prohibits flying them in controlled airspace without a permit. Flying a drone near a major airport like Newark Liberty requires clearance from air traffic controllers."

      This sounds more like a joke than an aviation safety regulation. How do they actually enforce it, is the question. Given the high stakes involved, allot more severe measures and technologies should be involved. How about simply shooting the stray drones down.

    • How about simply shooting the stray drones down.

      What device would you use to ensure complete and utter destruction of the drone *and* not have the shrapnel from such an event (remember, must also account for the device [e.g. missile] you're using to take out the drone...) *not* inflict damage to people or property in the air or on the ground?

    • Tough questions. Someone should hire these guys for advisers? 🤡

      Isn't drone standard for frequencies and their communication protocols operation regulated, just as it's done with walkie talkie frequencies? It would be allot easier building equipment and software to intercept them. It's just a matter of  💲 💲 💲, I think.

    • In a five second search of Das Google...

      So, for $3000, you can jam drones up to 1000 meters away.

      Frequencies:

      Thus, not only do you wipe out drones flying, but also have the possibility of wiping out portions of cellular phone service in the same area. Drones work much like cell phones on any one of a set of frequencies in the alloted band.

      ...and that's why this is a pain in the butt to solve.

    • Madrid's airport had to suspend operations for an hour yesterday because of drones in the area. 37 inbound flights were diverted and no outbound traffic was allowed. Between that and the Air Canada emergency, it was an exciting day at Barajas.

    • In 2019 there were 590 reported bird strikes in California alone.

      Another 336 in New York state.

      There are 3792 aviation accidents listed in the Aviation Safety Networks database for 2019.

      And there were an unconfirmed 257 deaths in aviation accidents in 2019 in the United States alone.

      How many resulted from interference with drones? Let me help you with that answer. ZERO.

      I'm not saying that drones should be ignored or unregulated, I'm just pointing out that there is a media driven hysteria because most people don't understand them, what they can and can't do, and that they're new.

      The FAA is currently proposing draconian, overreaching rules on the operation of drones driven by big industry who wants to own and control the air traffic in this country. There's big money in flying things around without an operator controlling it, and Amazon, Verizon and UPS want it all. (They're likely the companies behind the push for the FAA to over regulate 'class G' airspace.)

      On the other side, there is a growing need for counter-drone technology as they're clearly getting in the way, either misguidedly or purposefully, of other aviation. The question isn't really that there is a need to solve the problem. MY questions is, "is the amount of attention drone interference is getting overblown?" And the real question is; "how do we build a system to control or prevent interference with other types of aviation?"

      First, there are a TON of legitimate business uses for small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which is what their technical name is. From surveying, inspecting, search and rescue... etc. The list is long and that's not including package delivery or transportation. And then there's the people who do it for fun. Like me right now... We, the fun flyers, are the ones that have to be watched. The FAA heavily regulates the use of drones, for both business and fun, but in reality all you have to do is go out and buy one and start flying it. Rules? What rules?

      Most large airports already have geo-fencing. If you turn on a drone in their vicinity, they know where it is. Tracking that drone from it's launch point may lead you to the operator. The current FAA proposed rule will require, including a subscription fee, the networked broadcasting of that pilots location for the public to see. It's a good idea until you've met that citizen who sneaks up on you and tells you about all the reasons that you can't fly your drone where you are, even though none of it is true. Ask me about them. Things get very unsafe in a hurry around them. So that's not really a good solution either. However, if my drone broadcasted the location of the pilot in a way that was only identifiable to law enforcement, like maybe a license plate is 'anonymous' then I'm all for it. I love talking to cops about drones. Most of them own one, or their kids do. Great people.

      I have the pleasure of being close to some folks who have hands-on experience with high grade counter-drone tech. They can pin point the location of a drone as fast as it can get it's GPS bearings. That means they can have "somebody" talking to the pilot and/or in the presence of the drone, typically before the drone even leaves the ground. Talk about a deterrent...

      I could go on for a long time.