In a blog in February:
I portrayed a scenario in the near future in which a commercial aircraft collides with a large unmanned drone with massive loss of life. Now, it seems, the future may have almost arrived with the news from last week of a near collision between a corporate jet and what was described as “a large remote controlled aircraft” in Denver airspace. Obviously, while some have their eyes set on the snooping aspect of donres this incident highlights the challenges facing aviation authorities in the safety dimension.
But have our lawmakers listened? Paid attention? Nope! They've just approved a law to have up to 30,000 of these unmanned devices wafting through our skies by 2015. Obviously, all these paid whores are doing it because the military-industrial complex has notified them that if they want more campaign largesse, they better cough up the goods, because after all, the drone-makers need an outlet for their machinery after Afghanistan winds down and Karzai finally kicks our butts out.
So this way, the military industrial complex is afforded a new avenue for increased manufacture (and jacking up deficits), on the home front! Anyway, as reported by a Denver TV station last week, the pilot of a Cessna flying at 8,000 feet over Denver told air traffic controllers he had just seen an unidentified object pass by.
“A remote controlled aircraft, or what?” a nervous-sounding pilot said in conversation captured by LiveATC.net, a website that monitors air traffic control traffic. “Something just went by the other way … About 20 to 30 seconds ago. It was like a large remote-controlled aircraft.”
An FAA spokesman in Washington said, “We reviewed radar and audio communications but found no unidentified targets in the area where the Citation pilot was flying, and no other pilot reported seeing an unidentified aircraft.”
Jeebus peace! So you mean to tell me the FAA's wizards can't even discern IF an unmanned vehicle is in possession of anyone or if that missing drone was involved in a near collision with official, human-piloted air craft? Wow! If that's so, we really are in deep shit.
But a bit of FAA research would have disclosed that the only entity known to have permission to fly drones anywhere in the vicinity is University of Colorado’s Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which has FAA authorization to fly drones over 59 separate 20 x 20-mile areas 50 miles east of Denver, according to a school website. This is a wake up call, folks, especially if the FAA can't even keep track of who or where they authorized to fly these damned things.
Stay tuned, and in the meantime maybe email your congress rats and ask them what they were thinking when they approved unmanned clutter in our airspace, threatening official, manned aircraft, even as the feds purport to still be concerned over security in our skies. Something here stinks, and it ain't in Denmark! What I do know is that financially we've got very much bigger issues to deal with - including rebuilding infrastructure- which ought to precede a $1.2 billion domestic drone manufacture program!