While pilots recognise the huge economic potential of drones both commercially and recreationally, there is growing concern about the increasing number of near misses between these devices and manned aircraft, and the potential for a catastrophic crash should a collision take place.
BALPA wants the threat posed by drones to be taken seriously. We need more information on just how big a threat they are. BALPA is working with others (including the government) on empirical testing to identify what would happen if a drone was to strike an aircraft engine, windscreen or the rotor blades of a helicopter.
BALPA is also looking at how technology could be fitted to drones to make them “visible” to Air Traffic Controllers, so if one is flown in an irresponsible manner ATC can issue avoidance action to the manned aircraft and they know the exact location to send the police to.
All drone users need to be aware of the dangers. We are pressing for better education, compulsory registration during which the rules are made quite clear and more high profile prosecutions of offenders.
Pilots know that drones are here to stay. Commercially, drones are flown by trained professionals and BALPA is pleased to be opening its doors to offer them Associate Membership so together we can drive up standards and bring forward the highest levels of safety across all aviation.