Monday, June 23, 2014

At least 49 large military drones crashed over US since 2001 - report

Published time: June 23, 2014 20:53
Reuters / Tech. Sgt. Effrain Lopez
Reuters / Tech. Sgt. Effrain Lopez
A minimum of 49 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operated by the US armed forces have suffered major crashes in US airspace since 2001, a worrying number considering the thousands of civilian drones set to flood American skies in the coming months.

The total was compiled by the Washington Post, which used Freedom of Information requests to obtain the data, which includes only Class A accidents - those that caused more than $2 million dollars of damage. The real number of incidents and near-misses is likely considerably higher, but the Air Force and Army refuse to provide information for smaller accidents that did not require a public investigation.

According to its own documents, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is “incrementally” loosening drone regulations, allowing “safe integration” for drones, which currently predominantly operate in military airspace, and need special licenses to fly through shared airspace. Nonetheless, it estimates that there will be more than 7,500 commercial drones in US airspace by the end of the decade. According to internal Pentagon data, it also plans to launch its own military-grade drones from at least 144 sites by 2017.

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