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Study: Evaluating Small UAS Near Midair Collision Risk
25 October 2018

Study: Evaluating Small UAS Near Midair Collision Risk

In a recent study, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researchers revealed results from a small drone (sUAS) detection study performed near Daytona Beach International Airport in Florida, USA.

To gather their data, the research team secured a DJI AeroScope – a passive radio-frequency sensor designed to detect, track, and record UAS activity.  During the 13-day sampling period, researchers detected 73 different DJI-manufactured drones that made 192 separate flights.

Researchers also collected valuable operator behavior data, including common sUAS flight locations, times, and altitudes.

It was found that 12 percent of all detected drones were flying near unimproved land and parks. More than three-fourths were flying in residential neighborhoods or near single-family homes. Another 21.5 percent hovered above commercial, industrial or public properties, the researchers reported.

The researchers compared detected sUAS activity with locations and altitudes prescribed by the FAA’s UAS Facility Maps.  According to the FAA, “UAS Facility Maps shows the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize Part 107 operations without additional safety analysis.”  More than one-fifth of the 177 flights were flying higher than the safe altitude prescribed for their operating area.  Moreover, researchers compared detected UAS operations to historical manned aircraft flight data, revealing several near encounters.

The researchers suggested that drone manufacturers should more frequently incorporate a technology called “geofencing,” which would prevent sUAS from accidentally entering restricted areas. The authors also proposed that the FAA could consider making more information on sUAS activity available to aircraft pilots.

EASA releases Annual Safety Review 2018

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) released the Annual Safety Review 2018.

Audit: FAA faces challenges in implementing runway incursion mitigation initiatives

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation published the findings of their audit into the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) runway safety efforts. 

Due to the increase in runway incursions, in June 2015 FAA initiated a Call to Action forum that focused on developing short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives to mitigate runway incursions and improve safety. In November 2015, FAA published 22 initiatives developed at the forum.
In December 2016 the OIG initiated an audit with the objective to evaluate FAA’s progress in implementing these initiatives.

OIG found that as of November 2017, FAA had completed 10 of the 22 initiatives, including initiatives aimed at educating pilots on signs, markings, and other visual aids at high-risk airports and updating a best practices list for airport surface and movement areas. Ten initiatives are still in progress while two initiatives were canceled. However, the Agency faces challenges in fully implementing the initiatives still in progress. These include dedicating funding to complete four initiatives and fully implementing new technologies for seven initiatives, which could take years to complete. In addition, while FAA has implemented a monitoring plan to track the status of the initiatives, the plan does not tie the initiatives to quantifiable goals or other metrics that would measure their effectiveness in reducing runway incursions.

OIG made three recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administrator regarding revisions to the 2015 Call to Action monitoring plan. FAA concurred with all three recommendations:

  1. Update the target delivery dates for initiatives that are still in progress, including those without target delivery dates, and implement procedures for continually updating delivery dates and descriptions of initiatives as changes are made.
  2. Develop and include in the monitoring plan quantifiable metrics or other indicators that can measure the effectiveness of the initiatives.
  3. Consolidate duplicate initiatives within the monitoring plan.


ANSV Italy reports 46 drone incidents over 2017

The Italian accident investigation board ANSV published it’s Annual Report over 2017, drawing attention to 46 drone incidents over the past year in Italy.

ANSV notes that it continued to monitor interferences recorded in the Italian airspace between unmanned aircraft and manned aircraft. The number of incidents (46) is in line with that of the previous year (51).
Of the 46 incidents reported last year, 42 were conflicts with manned aircraft. Four incidents pertained to single drone operations, for example a bird strike to a tethered drone, and drones observed near airports by ground personnel.
The examination of the airprox reports received by ANSV also shows that a common factor is non-compliance with the national legislation in force. Drones are often operated in areas that are prohibited, e.g. close to airports.

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IATA publishes Safety Report 2017

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published their Safety Report 2017.

In 2017:

  • The global accident rate was 1.08 per million sectors, compared to 0.50 for IATA members.
  • The all-accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry was nearly four times better than that of non-IOSA airlines (0.56 vs. 2.17).
  • 48.8% of the world’s accidents in 2017 occurred in the Africa (AFI) and Asia-Pacific (ASPAC) regions.
  • 24.4% of the world’s accidents in 2017 involved ASPACbased operators.
  • There were 11 accidents in the AFI region, nine involving AFI based operators, including six Runway Excursions.
  • The largest number of accidents occurred in Generation 2 turboprops and Generation 3 jets.1
  • There were no fatal accidents in Generation 4 jets or Generation 3 turboprops.1
  • 44% of the world’s accidents involved turboprops, while the global turboprop fleet is one fifth the size of the jet fleet.
  • Four of the six fatal accidents in 2017 were in cargo operations.

Download the full report: Safety Report 2017


Dutch Safety Board initiates investigation into flying over conflict zones

The Dutch Safety Board will conduct an investigation to assess the follow-up of its recommendations regarding flying over conflict zones, published in the final report of the MH17 crash.

The Dutch Safety Board wants to determine the measures that parties have taken regarding airspace management in conflict zones and in sharing information about threats. The Board also will investigate how operators take into account overflying conflict zones in their risk analyses and in how they give account of the chosen routes.

In accordance with the legal requirements, the Dutch Safety Board examines what parties have done with the results of the investigation and its recommendations.

More information:


U.K. AAIB releases Annual Safety Review 2017

The U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) released its Annual Safety Review 2017.

The AAIB reported that it received 708 occurrence notifications in 2017 and deployed 38 times to conduct field investigations, 16 of which were fatal accidents in the UK resulting in 28 deaths. A further 204 investigations were conducted by correspondence. Most of the fatal accidents involved General Aviation with the dominant causal factors being loss of control in flight and weather-related issues.

A review of General Aviation accident reports published by the AAIB between 2010 and 2015, inclusive showed similar causal factors. The predominant causal factor was loss of control in flight, which accounted for almost half of the 72 accidents. Of these, most involved the aircraft entering an inadvertent stall and/or spin following engine failure, or during aerobatics.

In 2017 the AAIB issued 29 Safety Recommendations from 8 investigations. As of the end of February 2018, responses have been received for 21 of these 29 recommendations. In assessing the responses, 15 were adequate and closed, 5 were partially adequate and 1 was not adequate.

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ATSB released Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2007-2016

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released the annual Aviation Occurrence Statistics 2007 to 2016.

In 2016, nearly 230 aircraft were involved in accidents in Australia, with another 291 aircraft involved in a serious incident. There were 21 fatalities in the aviation sector in 2016, which was fewer than any previous year recorded by the ATSB. There were no fatalities in either high or low capacity regular public transport (RPT) operations, which has been the case since 1975 and 2010 respectively.

Commercial air transport operations experienced one fatality from 15 accidents; general aviation experienced 10 fatalities from 119 accidents; and recreational aviation had 10 fatalities from 63 accidents.

Collision with terrain was the most common accident or serious incident for general aviation aircraft, recreational aviation and remotely piloted aircraft in 2016. Aircraft control was the most common cause of an accident or serious incident for air transport operators.

Wildlife strikes, including birdstrikes, were again the most common types of incident involving air transport and general aviation operations, with runway events the most common type of incident for recreational aviation.

The accident and fatal accident rates for general and recreational aviation reflect the higher‑risk operational activity when compared to air transport operations. They also reflect the significant growth in recreational aviation activity over the last ten years and this sector’s increased reporting culture.

General aviation accounts for one‑third of the total hours flown by Australian-registered aircraft and over half of all aircraft movements across Australia.

The total accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are 10 times more likely to have an accident than commercial operations, with recreational aircraft around twice as likely to experience an accident than general aviation.

The fatal accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are around 20 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport, and recreational operations are almost 40 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than air transport.

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ASN data show 2017 was safest year in aviation history

The Aviation Safety Network today released the 2017 airliner accident statistics showing an extremely low total of 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 fatalities. 

The year 2017 turned out to be the safest year ever for commercial aviation, Aviation Safety Network data show.

Over the year 2017 the Aviation Safety Network recorded a total of 10 fatal airliner accidents [1], resulting in 44 occupant fatalities and 35 persons on the ground. This makes 2017 the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities. In 2016 ASN recorded 16 accidents and 303 lives lost.

Five accidents involved cargo flights, five were passenger flights. Given the expected worldwide air traffic of about 36,800,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 7,360,000 flights.

The low number of accidents comes as no surprise, according to ASN President Harro Ranter: “Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry.”

On December 31, aviation had a record period of 398 days with no passenger jet airliner accidents. Additionally, a record period of 792 days passed since the previous civil aircraft accident claiming over 100 lives [2].

One out of 10 accident airplanes was operated by an airline on the E.U. “blacklist”.

[1] Statistics are based on all worldwide fatal commercial aircraft accidents (passenger and cargo flights) involving civil aircraft of which the basic model has been certified for carrying 14 or more passengers. Consequently, the June 7 accident involving a Myanmar Air Force Y-8F transport plane that killed 122 is not included.
When including military transport aircraft as well as non-commercial flights, the total number fatalities would be 230 in 24 fatal accidents. Still the lowest numbers in modern aviation history.

[2] Last fatal passenger jet airliner accident: 28 Nov. 2016, Avro RJ85 LaMia, near Medellin, Colombia
Last civil aircraft accident claiming over 100 lives: 31 Oct. 2015, Airbus A321 Metrojet, North Sinai, Egypt (224 fatalities)

The Aviation Safety Network is an independent organisation located in the Netherlands. Founded in 1996. It has the aim to provide everyone with a (professional) interest in aviation with up-to-date, complete and reliable authoritative information on airliner accidents and safety issues. ASN is an exclusive service of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). The figures have been compiled using the airliner accident database of the Aviation Safety Network, the Internet leader in aviation safety information. The Aviation Safety Network uses information from authoritative and official sources.

More information:


Harro Ranter
the Aviation Safety Network
e-mail: hr@aviation-safety.net
twitter: @AviationSafety

Chinese authorities test drone-aircraft collision

CAAC drone collision test

On November 30, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) conducted the first test of a collision between a UAV (drone) and a passenger plane at the Xiangbei Experimental Base of Aviation Industry. This was done to determine the effects of a quad-copter drone hitting the front windshield of a passenger plane in flight.

For the test, an aircraft nose section was manufactured. The mock-up was not based on an actual aircraft model but similar to a domestic jetliner. Two DJI quad-copter drones were then positioned to hit the windshield. One test involved hitting the corner of a windshield, the other dead-center. The speed of the aircraft was described as ‘typical’.

Both outer cockpit window panes cracked as a result of the collision, photos show.

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