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Lufthansa flight has near-miss with drone near Warsaw

BERLIN/WARSAW

A Lufthansa plane with 108 passengers on board nearly collided with a drone as it approached Warsaw's main airport on Monday afternoon, the airline said on Tuesday.

The drone came within 100 metres (330 feet) of the Embraer plane when the Munich to Warsaw flight was at a height of about 760 metres, the airline and the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) said.

Police are investigating, a PANSA spokesman said.

The plane landed safely at 1409 GMT, a Lufthansa spokeswoman said.

PANSA changed landing directions for other planes until the area was clear. However, police and military helicopters sent to the area did not spot the drone.

The incident was first reported by the Aviation Herald. It cited the pilots as telling air traffic controllers they "should take care of your airspace" and "it is really quite dangerous".

With the use of commercial drones for applications from filming to sports events and agriculture booming, the European Union is currently working on new regulations for drones to protect the safety and privacy of its citizens.

The regulations are due to be presented in the autumn as part of the European Commission's new aviation package.

Among the few member states with specific regulations, Germany in June introduced new rules that prevent the use of drones within 1.5 km of airport perimeter fences.

Anyone wishing to fly a drone beyond that exclusion zone and in controlled airspace must request permission from air traffic authorities and fly no higher than 50 metres, depending on the size of the aircraft.

Drones caused alarm in France earlier this year when several flights were spotted operating over sensitive sites in Paris. [iD:nL5N0W617Y]

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr sees opportunities for the group in the field of commercial drones, saying last month Lufthansa's maintenance and pilot training units could provide expertise.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin and Wiktor Szary in Warsaw; Editing by Mark Potter)

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Sadly, it appears that sooner than later we will read of a incident in which an aircraft hits one of these drones, hopefully it will not result in any loss of life but the potential is certainly there. It appears to be time for all associations to lobby their governments for the enactment of laws that will impose severe penalties on those stupid enough to operate their drones within a controlled airspace without permission. By severe penalties I do mean "Jail time". While they are at it, they should include severe penalties for those who aim lasers at aircraft.

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A drone is going to bring down an airliner: why are we waiting for that to happen?

From Air Transport World,

July 21, 2015

by Karen Walker, Editor

Jul 21, 2015 by Karen Walker in ATW Editor's Blog


Sooner or later – and I personally believe it will be sooner – an airliner full of passengers and crew is going to be brought down after colliding with a drone.

There – I’ve said it, though most in the industry won’t. That’s understandable, but it’s still not right.

We must have an urgent, honest discussion about what is happening in the skies today. Even more urgent, we must do something about the rapidly escalating danger that drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – pose to commercial air transport.

If further evidence of the critical situation were needed, look at what happened yesterday close to Warsaw airport. A Lufthansa Embraer E-195 with 108 passengers aboard narrowly missed a collision with a so-far unidentified drone. We now sit just 330 feet away from a different story entirely – one that would have been an instant global newsflash and would have dominated the headlines for weeks; “Airliner brought down by drone: at least 100 dead”.

That’s not hyperbole. It’s true. This incident, which follows an alarming increase in the number of reported near-misses between airliners and drones close to major commercial airports – requires immediate attention. I would argue the issue of drone oversight and control should take priority over airliner tracking (post MH370’s disappearance), military/intelligence agency communications with commercial air transport authorities (post MH17’s missile shootdown), and psychological monitoring of pilots (post Germanwings 9525 crash). Why? Because the threat to airliners from drones is more likely and more imminent than the scenarios that led to any of these tragedies.

If (when) an airliner is brought down by a drone, there will be outrage, there will be calls for immediate action, there will be task forces, there will be finger-pointing, and there will be hundreds – likely thousands – of reported near-miss incidents to point to. There will be new legislation restricting the use of drones near airports, requiring drone users to be registered, certified, and take some level of training. And there will be stiff penalties for non-compliance. My question is, why are we waiting?

Regulating and monitoring drone use, especially small UAVs, is not easy and won’t be cheap. But that’s the case with most safety practices in commercial air transportation. It won’t be popular with drone enthusiasts and the UAV industry. But popularity surely does not trump an industry that will be responsible for safeguarding almost 4 billion passengers by 2017 and which generates trillions of dollars of economic benefits to countries everywhere?

So why aren’t we – by which I mean FAA, ICAO, IATA, aircraft manufacturers, the airlines, law enforcement agencies and governments everywhere - not making UAV regulation and control their top priority?

I have an awful suspicion, and one best illustrated by comparing the drone threat to that of the German threat in World War II. Germany had its Enigma encryption machine for encoding and communicating top-secret messages. Famously, British cryptologists created a machine that cracked the Enigma code and allowed intelligence services to read those German communications and hence know about planned strikes. But they often didn’t act on that knowledge because to do so would have given away the fact that they had cracked Enigma, potentially extending the war if Germany then changed the code. The costs of an extended war were deemed higher than those of individual losses, such as planned allied city bombings or warship strikes, which were known about thanks to the decryption machine but could not be acted upon.

With today’s UAV problem, as complex and expensive as it will be to resolve, I wonder whether another cost calculation is being considered? Getting sufficient funds, resources and commitment to implement an effective, global drone-control regime in place will be very challenging and likely a slow process. Unless. Unless an airliner, let’s say a western airliner with some 300 people onboard, is brought down by a drone. Whether that act by the UAV operator is unintended or deliberate, the game changes overnight and the path to drone regulation and legislation becomes much easier to fund and implement. Three hundred lives is a very high cost, but perhaps worth the greater good of thousands of lives saved by an expedited UAV-control system?

I don’t want to wait for the “enigma solution”. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
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  • 2 weeks later...

Amazon, Google want to control low-altitude airspace for UAS as a "private-sector" solution to airspace management.

Lots to think about here, in this AW&ST article

Amazon, Google Want Changes To Low-Altitude Airspace For UAS

Aug 5, 2015 Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

http://aviationweek.com/technology/amazon-google-want-changes-low-altitude-airspace-uas?NL=AW-19&Issue=AW-19_20150805_AW-19_403&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1&utm_rid=CPEN1000001138147&utm_campaign=3369&utm_medium=email&elq2=a0af244003484f858939f8cac8f6ca24

Amazon and Google are proposing changes to low-altitude airspace to enable widespread use of small unmanned aircraft, including for package delivery. Central to both proposals is allowing private-sector entities, rather than the FAA, to manage airspace operations.

Amazon proposes segregating airspace below 500 ft. to buffer small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations from current manned aviation activity and to buffer lesser-equipped air vehicles from highly equipped vehicles operating beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) and able to avoid collisions.

Google proposes using available technology including cellular networks, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS- B) and automotive vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications to enable UAS to operate as manned aviation does today in Class G uncontrolled airspace.

RIVAL LOW-ALTITUDE UAS AIRSPACE PROPOSALS

Amazon

Segregated airspace zones below 500 ft. altitude

Delegated responsibility for air navigation services

Best-equipped, best-served UAS access to airspace

“Managed by exception” air traffic management

Google

Airspace service providers (ASP) are interface between UAS operators and ATC

UAS traffic planning, monitoring, separation assurance by ASPs via cellular networks

UAS give way to manned traffic, using ADS-B In for collision avoidance

Short-range UAS-to-UAS collision avoidance via “ADS-B-like” system (e.g., V2V)

Developing an air traffic system that enables safe operations of highly automated UAS flying beyond line-of-sight is essential to realizing the “enormous benefits” of the technology, says Amazon, which is developing the Prime Air unmanned delivery system.

The online retail giant proposes segregating airspace below 500 ft. into four zones. Airspace below 200 ft., or the low-speed localized traffic area, would be reserved for operations such as surveying, videography and inspection that do not involve transiting the airspace.

Lesser-equipped vehicles, lacking sense-and-avoid (SAA) systems, would be confined to this area and would not be allowed access to certain airspace within the zone, such as over heavily populated areas.

Between 200-400 ft., the high-speed transit area, would be designated for well-equipped UAS “as determined by the relevant performance standards and rules,” says the Amazon proposal.

Airspace between 400-500 ft. would serve as a permanent no-fly zone where small UAS would be forbidden to fly, except in emergencies, to provide a buffer between unmanned and manned aviation operations.

Finally, predefined low-risk locations with altitude restrictions and equipage requirements would be established by aviation authorities; designated hobbyist airfields fall under this heading.

Google’s proposal for Class G airspace below 500 ft. is to have airspace service providers (ASP) perform UAS traffic planning, airspace supervision and separation assurance using existing cellular networks. The UAS would give way to manned aircraft by listening to existing ADS-B channels and maneuvering to avoid a collision.

An “ADS-B-like” system, such as cellular device-to-device or automotive V2V links, would provide short-range UAS-to-UAS collision avoidance. Google is developing a low-cost, low-power ADS-B transceiver for use in unmanned aircraft.

The search giant’s proposal requires the FAA to amend its mandate for ADS-B Out equipage by 2020 to include helicopters flying below 500 ft. over populated areas, which could meet opposition from operators, but Google says its low-cost ADS-B system will be suitable for manned aircraft.

Under Google’s proposal, ASPs would be the interface between UAS operators and FAA air traffic control (ATC). They would provide data to operators on airspace restrictions, weather, obstacles and other unmanned and manned traffic. The data would be used to plan coordinated, conflict-free routes.

Google would be the ASP for its Project Wing UAS delivery fleet and be part of a federated network with other ASPs, such as Amazon for its Prime Air operations and providers serving other low-altitude airspace users such as hobbyists.

“To ensure openness of the airspace and spur competition, anyone should be able to create an ASP,” says Google’s proposal. “However, all ASPs must be networked to share the traffic and flight plan data with each other and with ATC.”

The projected UAS industry growth “requires the delegation of responsibility for many traditional air navigation services,” says Amazon. “There should be a controlling entity that serves a central, offline coordination and auditing function; however many of these services will be handled in a more distributed and federated fashion where multiple operators cover overlapping areas, each managing their own fleet.”

Amazon also proposes a “best-equipped, best-served” model where airspace access is determined by vehicle capabilities, and outlines four classes of equipage: basic, good, better and best.

“Basic” is radio-control flight within line-of-sight (LOS) in low-risk areas. “Good” would allow unrestricted daytime LOS flight below 200 ft. in rural areas and limited suburban operations. This requires the UAS to be able to announce its identify, location and activity via V2V, receive air traffic and weather information, provide proximity alerting via V2V, and connect to the Internet via the ground station.

“Better” adds an autopilot capable of automatic deconfliction via collaborative V2V, on-vehicle Internet connection and ADS-B Out, and would allow LOS flight below 400 ft. in suburban areas and limited urban operations.

“Best-equipped” adds sensor-based noncollaborative SAA, online 4-D trajectory planning and execution, geospatial data on all hazards above 200 ft., ADS-B In/Out, onboard vehicle condition monitoring and the ability to land at an alternate site. This would enable BLOS flight below 400 ft. in all areas, and allow one operator to control more than one vehicle, says Amazon.

“Operators seeking broad airspace access in multiple environments will need to have highly-equipped vehicles,” the proposal says. “They will also need to minimize interaction with lesser-equipped [small UAS] as well as the occasional manned aircraft flying at low altitude.”

Google proposes an airspace security system based on how pilots and operators today establish a traceable identity. This would use the public key infrastructure to verify the identity of an operator submitting a flight plan request. This would “enable compliance and responsibility through identity,” Google says.

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The giants of the corporatocracy now want to own / control the low altitude airspace and turn it into a center of profit.

But who will represent the interest of the naturally occurring birds that use that airspace now?

Will it be my personal insurance that has to cover liabilities when one of these things comes down on my home, car, or head?

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Whether one favours private enterprise or public "enterprise" for governance concerning all matters fiscal as well as social, one cannot set aside three characteristics which private enterprise has demonstrated so well about itself, since the notion of "corporation" was first invented by the powerful in the 19th Century:

1. An abiding unwillingness to sacrifice/reduce profit in favour of a greater good;

2. An incapacity to recognize that it is not an island unto itself but exists within a social, not an just economic milieu;

3. An inability to govern itself without oversight or regulatory controls, according a common or greater good or at least define and strike a balance between narrow corporate profitability and broader social responsibilities.

While the concept of low-airspace-use may make sense for small-package deliveries, one can envision such a powerful and efficient technology completely taking over a tiny band of quiet airspace just a couple of hundred feet above our heads.

...and we think that wasps at a family picnic are a damn nuisance and annoyance...

The need for an independent, strong regulator in the face of such privatized plunder of public territory has never been greater. The very fact that these private tyrannies can even think this out loud should be cause for concern because it signals the arrogance of an expectant boardroom that price and lobbying will achieve everything and that public spaces are theirs to use at will.

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The giants of the corporatocracy now want to own / control the low altitude airspace and turn it into a center of profit.

But who will represent the interest of the naturally occurring birds that use that airspace now?

Will it be my personal insurance that has to cover liabilities when one of these things comes down on my home, car, or head?

probably the same folks who built the bird killing office towers and the bat killing wind turbines.

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"...and the bat killing wind turbines."

Stepping out of the mythology surrounding these delightful creatures, they do mop up tons of insects like mosquitoes...

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/wind-farms-causing-thousands-of-bats-to-die-of-collapsed-lungs-annually-in-alberta-top-bat-expert
National Post

Wind farms causing thousands of bats to die of collapsed lungs annually in Alberta: top bat expert

Sheila Pratt, Postmedia News | November 19, 2014

EDMONTON — Thousands of bats die on southern Alberta wind farms each year, but it’s unclear what effect that is having on the overall population, says Canada’s foremost bat expert, Robert Barclay.

Most of the bats die because their lungs collapse when they run into low air pressure around the tips of the wind turbines — not because they hit the towers or blades.

With wind farms now coming to north-central Alberta — including two new projects east of Edmonton — the impact on bats migrating from northern forests needs further study, says Barclay, a University of Calgary biology professor.

It’s a serious issue, but with no accurate count of the province’s bat population, “it’s hard to say if turbines are killing too many,” said Barclay.

cnsphoto-munro-bats.jpg?w=620&h=465
Erin Baerwald / HandoutA seemingly uninjured Hoary bat carcass at the base of a wind turbine at Wild Energy Facilities near Pincher Creek, Alberta.

“We know very little about the abundance and distribution of bats in central to northern Alberta.”

Barclay’s research, begun in 2006, uncovered the surprising fact that migrating bats are much more likely than birds to be killed by wind turbines.

Thanks to their sonar bats can detect solid structures, but they cannot detect the changing air pressure that causes bleeding in their lungs. Birds’ lungs are able to withstand the pressure change.

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It’s a serious issue, but with no accurate count of the province’s bat population, “it’s hard to say if turbines are killing too many,” said Barclay.

Well if it was an oil spill killing these bats you can rest assured all the "end fossil fuel now brigade" would be insisting we shut down every pipeline and oil rig immediately.

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It’s funny not, but if humans were suddenly exterminated, or left helpless to respond by one global tribulation, or another, the rest of the planet will die shortly following as our nuclear legacy melts down, breaks down, or otherwise dumps its filth into the natural environment and effectively poisons Earth in totality for the next several hundred thousand years. It’ll be left to God, or someone else to reseed life here on planet doom thereafter. I’ll bet they don’t make the same mistake twice by including humans back into the mix.

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Briefly then, short of an external event like the dinosaurs experienced, our disappearance will be our ultimate folly - we carry with us the seeds of our own extinction but the mental horsepower to do something about events perhaps thousands of years ahead. We are the first and only species that can both anticipate and remember, something which the process of evolution cannot do. And yet for us it takes to much work, energy and focus just to change and survive, because, either by our actions or inaction we choose or permit to be chosen for us, profit over people. It's odd how often the metaphors and language of commerce is comparable to metaphors and language of war.

Then, when it's darkest I'm reminded of a cartoon in Playboy from the '70s, (not Gahan Wilson, though it could have been), where the familiar old, long-bearded protester standing on a streetcorner of Anywhere, U.S.A., holding a tattered sign high on a long stick with the scrawled words, "I told you so...".

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