ALPA Calling for Traffic Collision and Avoidance Systems for UAVs

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The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is calling for Traffic Collision and Avoidance Systems (TCAS) technology to be mandated on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Speaking Wednesday at the ALPA Air Safety Forum in Washington DC—two days after a Lufthansa Embraer E-195 reported a near-miss with an UAV on approach to Warsaw—ALPA president Tim Canoll said language requiring that TCAS or similar technology be installed on UAVs should be included in FAA reauthorization legislation Congress is expected to take up later this year. “It’s important that active collision avoidance [technology] be mandated on [UAVs], otherwise these aircraft are invisible to our pilots,” Canoll said, adding that UAVs must be required to “use the same rules as we do.”

US Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), delivering a keynote address at the ALPA conference, also called for UAV regulations to be included in the FAA bill. DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a key player in the upcoming FAA reauthorization debate.

“Basically, you should say nobody should fly a drone that isn’t pre-programmed to avoid restricted airspace,” DeFazio said. “We should register [UAVs] so we can track them back [to owners and operators]. We need to institute a system of meaningful fines and penalties for people who do operate them in restricted airspace.”

DeFazio said there are “a lot of legitimate uses” for UAVs, but he expressed concern about the impact unmanned aircraft will have on the safety of commercial aircraft. He said he has requested that FAA do tests on UAVs “being sucked into aircraft engines” similar to bird ingestion tests, and has been informed FAA will conduct these tests in the near future.

Aaron Karp, the Air Transport World website

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