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Drone-plane safety incidents seen quadrupling in US: FAA

United Airlines planes are seen on platform at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, July 8, 2015.

[WASHINGTON] Pilot encounters with drones are on pace to at least quadruple to more than 1,000 this year, highlighting a growing threat to US aviation by unmanned aircraft.

There were 650 cases reported to the Federal Aviation Administration through Aug 9 compared with 238 in 2014, the agency reported on Wednesday night. Assuming the reports continue at the current rate, there would be more than four times the safety incidents by the end of this year.

The reports of drones spotted near traditional aircraft come from pilots on private planes and helicopters, as well as crews aboard airliners, according to an FAA release. FAA rules prohibit drones from flying near airports or at altitudes where piloted aircraft operate.

Industry groups estimate that as many as 500,000 drones have been sold in the US, many of which are capable of flying thousands of feet above the ground.


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