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Can a drone cause a plane crash?

Over the last few years, drones have exponentially increased in popularity. While they definitely have pending applications in commerce and elsewhere, there is a concern about the impact drones could conceivably have on commercial air flights. Reuters explains some of these concerns along with the steps U.S. lawmakers are taking to prevent drone-related air catastrophes from occurring.

Last December, many flights at London's Gatwick Airport were halted due to the presence of drones. This and other similar occurrences spurred concern about the possibility of a drone causing a commercial airline crash. One American lawmaker responded by calling for increased regulation of drones, of which there are about 1.3 million registered for use in the U.S. Of course, these numbers don't account for drones that are not registered, and current estimates point to potentially hundreds of thousands of drones in that category.

Loss of life linked to a drone-related air crash is unconscionable, and reason enough for regulators to take this issue seriously. However, there are other potential problems at play, including the use of drones for commercial purposes. Concerns revolve around the impact such an accident would have on the use of drones for deliveries and other business endeavors, the full applications of which are still under development. Lawmakers also cite the evolving technology of drones, which make them far more formidable than in past years.

So, what can be done? One aspect of regulation involves targeting drone operators who regularly flout laws and codes and ensuring they're no longer able to fly their drones. Work is also underway to facilitate easier tagging and tracking of drones, which would be integral in the event of a violation. No matter what is ultimately done, it's up to those in authority to ensure the safety of air travel and prevent disasters by taking a proactive approach to regulating drones and their operation.

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