With the recent increased media interest in drones causing nuisance around airports, I was interested to see what the current UK Airprox Board data indicated in terms of : Incident frequency, the current trend, the UK airports most affected.
The following chart is extracted from the UK Airprox Board information.
The UK Airprox Board chart shows the number of reports involving drones and other objects up to November 2018. We were particularly interested in the red bars against the associated years on the chart. These are specifically incidents associated by the observer to be involving “drones”.
Since 2015 there have been 313 reported occurrences involving drones. Of this quantity, there are 22 that are recorded as drone operators reporting the Airprox.
The number of reported UK Airprox incidents involving drones has increased, with the most noticeable increase starting in 2015, and has risen up to around 120 drone reports for 2018. Of these 120, there are 66 that are incidents recorded in the vicinity of airports.
With the media writing about the recent reported sightings of drones flying near Gatwick and Heathrow airports in UK, we filtered the UK Airprox incident data to those UK Airprox taking place near to airport locations. The result is shown below.
For the above chart, there may be a few incidents that have not been caught in our filter for this exercise. That is if the recorded location does not obviously appear as an airport location. So if anything, the quantities of incidents may be a little higher.
The quantity of reported UK Airprox incidents involving drones near to airports has increased during the period to around 66 in 2018. Over the reporting period there appear to have been over 184 Airprox incidents raised involving drones near airport locations.
The specific subset of UK Airprox data that filtered for records involving Airports & Drones are associated to over 18 different airport locations, with 90 incidents recorded as in the location of Heathrow Airport and 21 reports around Manchester.
For London Heathrow in 2018 there was typically at least 1 incident involving drones a month with up to a maximum of 8 recorded in Jul 2018. There is an obvious peek during the warmer months of May – August. With London Heathrow and Manchester Airports being such busy locations in terms of flight activities, it figures that more reports would be generated. Or does it, or should this mean drone pilots should be more conscious of the impact and take measures to de-conflict.
London Gatwick only had one drone incident reported UK Airprox in June 2018 within this data-set and in 2017 had 9.
As with all subjects to do with flying drones in UK, it isn’t as straight forward as would be hoped. As an old cynic I would imagine that it is far too easy to select the “drone” category for any reporting of an Airprox associated to an unknown small object. I am however left in no doubt, that having seen the videos posted online by some pilots, and read the discussions to justify unsafe and inconsiderate flying; that there are some misguided individuals and groups that may be featured in the UK Airprox data, but unfortunately were not identifiable at the time.
This summary was posted for interest only and has no underlying message. Happy to hear any thoughts or viewpoints.
If you wish to learn more about UK Airprox Board visit : UK Airprox Board website.