A drone allegedly slammed into an Aeromexico Boeing 737 landing in Tijuana, inflicting severe damage to the aircraft.
Looks at these pictures: we are talking some serious damages…
— Milenio (@Milenio) December 13, 2018
Flight 773 from Guadalajara to Tijuana, just over the border from San Diego, experienced the collision just prior to landing last Wednesday. The flight crew reported a loud bang and asked ATC for visual confirmation of any nose damage.
While Aeromexico stressed the plane landed safely and no passengers were injured, that’s not really the point here. The point is that drones are increasingly posing a problem to commercial aircraft. By law, drones are banned in the same airspace as commercial aircraft and around airports. But you see drones are a dime-a-dozen now on Amazon. Smaller drones escape radar coverage, meaning they are tantamount to stealth bombers. Furthermore, even small drones can cause significant damage.
Boomberg sums of the risks via an FAA study:
In a 2017 study based on computerized models, the FAA concluded that drones would cause more damage than birds of a similar size because they contain metal parts. Significant damage to windshields, wings and tail surfaces of aircraft was possible, the study found. However, the damage a small consumer drone could cause was unlikely to prove catastrophic, the study found.
wall border in the USA, the FAA reported that pilots have logged over 6,000 drone sightings so far this year…and the stats only go though June. Although no deaths have been attributed to drones, a helicopter crashed in South Carolina earlier this year while trying to evade a drone.
I appreciate drones on so many dimensions. From a military standpoint, they act as a substitute to human beings, reducing combat casualties (for one side at least). From a personal standpoint, consumer drones are an amazing way to secure aerial footage and may revolutionize mail and small parcel delivery in the years to come. But it is hardly comforting to think that a small drone can damage a large aircraft.