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Erratic drone flying

Air traffic operators express concern

18 May 2018, 02:19 ( 18 May, 2018) | updated: 18 May 2018, 10:39 ( 18 May, 2018)

DF Report
Press Release Photo by Finavia.

Professional air traffic operators expressed their serious concern at the recent increase in irresponsible flying of drones, said a press release issued by Finavia, the company that operates the country’s airports.

The aviation professionals (ANS Finland, Finavia, Finnair, Norra, the Finnish Pilots’ Association Safety and Security Committee and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi) find the fast escalating drone activities including irresponsible pilots not paying attention to aviation safety worrying.

Statistics show an increase in the number of “near-miss” situations, particularly in the vicinity of airports.

The seriousness of the situations is also greater than before. These incidents cause air traffic hazards and disturb the flow of air traffic, both are punishable offences, said Trafi Chief Advisor Jukka Hannola.

In some cases reported to Trafi, drones have been piloted at heights that are not permitted by the regulations in any airspace in Finland. Drones have also been piloted in the immediate vicinity of airports where piloting is prohibited. Such irresponsible behaviour and failure to observe the rules are illegal.

The press release said, “Recent drone observations at the Helsinki Airport area indicate that some drone pilots have not paid attention to the safety regulations. Aviation is founded on the principle of safety, and we expect that the drone pilots will also adapt a similar mindset.”

“Piloting drones is permitted in several areas, but regulations should be observed in all areas where piloting is prohibited. This ensures the safety of Finnish aviation,” said Finnair VP of Flight Operations and Airbus A350 Captain Jari Paajanen.

“The number of remotely controlled aircraft is increasing constantly, and in light of recent events, it seems that the irresponsible and dangerous piloting of these devices is also increasing, which is deeply worrying. Airliners are certified to endure individual bird strikes, but studies show that drones that collide with an aircraft’s structures, engines, windscreens or rotors can cause significantly more damage than a bird of similar weight. Unmanned aircraft are here to stay and they have numerous excellent purposes designed for them, but they must not disturb air traffic or compromise the safety of airliners and rescue helicopters,” said Finnish Pilots’ Association’s Safety and Security Committee Chairman Petri Pitkänen.

“Finnish regulations are flexible and provide drone pilots with good circumstances while protecting traditional manned aviation operations efficiently. However, even the best possible regulations are not sufficient if the pilots do not understand their responsibilities and violate the restrictions based on safety matters,” Hannola added.

In addition to these safety risks, reckless drone piloting can also cause financial losses due to the reorganisation of traffic arrangements to increase safety. Actions for damages caused by irresponsible drone piloting can be considerable.