A drone hit a six passenger Canadian aircraft on Tuesday, causing minor damage to the plane. While no one was injured in the incident, Canadian officials are urging for regulations on drones and remote-control planes in order to avoid future harm.
This is likely the first instance in which contact has occurred. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said they do not have any other recorded cases on file of such an incident. Last year the U.K. reported a drone struck the front of a plane, but the investigation found it probably wasn’t actually a drone; and earlier this year, a drone nearly collided with a passenger plane in China. The drone’s pilot was arrested.
The issue of aircraft safety and drone flight has been raised previously. A 2015 study from Virginia Tech showed an eight-pound drone had the ability to destroy an engine with the diameter of nine feet. This is not the first time Canada has expressed concern about recreational drones. The country previously announced their own restrictions, which prevent recreational droves from flying within 3.5 miles of an airport.
This drone, while abiding by the 3.5-mile rule, was flying higher than legal limits at 1,500 feet (the legal limit is 300 feet). The issue of rogue drones is an international one. In Dubai, trials of a “drone hunter,” a device that hunts down drones like this one, who are flying in unauthorized zones.
While drone hunters are one solution, at the moment authorities are having difficulty finding culprits violating the slim regulations that do exist. Monitoring the sky is not a regular law enforcement activity, and right now there are no regular authorities in place. Preventing the drones as well as identifying the operators is a difficult task that law officials are going to have to execute.
The owner of the drone responsible for Tuesday’s collision remains unidentified.