BERLIN, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The German air traffic control company (DFS), on Wednesday, reported 88 incidents of remote controlled drones entering restricted airspace in controlled areas of air traffic in Germany over the past year.
According to the DFS, such drones, or quadrocopters, have been reported by pilots 70 times in close proximity to German airports and another 18 times by pilots in the air. Although, this represents an increase of 300 drone encounters compared to 2016, it is not by as much as previously feared. The air traffic control company estimates that there are around 1 million drones operated privately in Germany.
Unmanned aircrafts entering controlled airspace is becoming an international nuisance as well. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reportedly receives over 3000 reports of drones illegally entering airspace around airports by pilots and authorities each month. Just in October 2017, a drone collided with a plane in Canada, while causing only minor damage, the incident could have proofed catastrophic, according to Canadian aviation authorities.
In Germany, most drones were sighted in 2017 near Frankfurt Airport, according to air traffic control, followed by Berlin-Tegel, Dusseldorf and Munich. The real number of infractions against the rules concerning controlled air space is unknown but certainly higher.
All airports also have a restricted air corridor in which planes ascend and descend. Drone operators require a start permission for their drones to enter that air space. The danger posed by drones in controlled air traffic space -- at least a 1.5 kilometer radius around airports -- is mostly caused by recreational pilots and not by devoted hobbyists or commercial drone pilots who "know of the dangers and are well informed," Kristina Kelek of DFS told Xinhua. "We welcome all pilots including drone pilots, but we want all to fly safe," Kelek said.
In October 2017, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure tightened the rules for drone flight in Germany. Drones with a weight of more than 0.25 kg have to be marked with a fire-proof plaque with the pilot's name and drones heavier than five kg require a start permit from the nearest air traffic control tower. If the drone is heavier than two kg, the pilot also needs a certificate of proficiency. The maximum altitude allowed is 3000 meters.
The unmanned flying objects, often equipped with a camera and GPS to fly beyond the line of sight, are a danger to air traffic. In 2016, a Lufthansa Airbus almost hit a quadrocopter while landing in Munich. The radio controlled aircrafts also pose a potential danger to road traffic, as was shown in January 2017 when a runaway drone landed on the autobahn in Bavaria and caused a crash.