BACA calls for urgent action on the use of drones


Richard Mumford

Following the report of a drone colliding with a commercial airliner at Heathrow yesterday BACA has issued a call for immediate action on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to ensure that aircraft safety and security is “paramount”.

The fact that a drone and an airliner collided brings into focus the need for legislation regarding UAVs.

Richard Mumford, chairman of the BACA said: “This incident clearly demonstrates the urgent need for better legislation to control the use of drones. While we fully understand the importance of supporting innovation in the market for UAVs, safety and security issues must be paramount.

“The effects of ingestion of a UAV into a commercial aircraft engine, striking a propeller blade or helicopter rotor blade are untested, but are likely to cause the engine to shut down, drastically increasing pilot workload in the critical and busiest flight phases of take-off, approach and landing.”

Mumford added that the  implications of a collision between a drone and a small aircraft would “likely be far more devastating”.

“The workload for any pilots on the landing and take-off phase is at its highest compared to any other time during a flight, being closer to the ground and manoeuvring at slower speeds, often in busy air traffic zones and close to urban conurbations. The consequences of a collision with a small aircraft, helicopter, glider or hot air balloon could prove to be disastrous,” he said.

“We are concerned that the current reactive approach to regulation of the use of drones can only lead to continuing escalation of the number and seriousness of the incidents that occur.  We firmly believe that urgent, proactive action must be taken to reverse that trend and to improve aviation safety,” Mumford added.

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