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The FAA has released the most recent UAS Sightings Reports covering January 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. The report indicates an increase of 99% in the average number of daily encounters reported between manned and unmanned aircraft in 2017 versus the 2015 reporting period.

The UAS Sightings reports were first released by the FAA beginning in November 2014 and each successive reporting period has continued to show a significant increase in the number of encounters between manned and unmanned aircraft in the US national airspace:

Reporting Period Total # of Incidents Reported Avg. # of Incidents Per Day
Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2015 1142 3.128
Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2016  1748 4.78
Jan. 1 – Sept. 30, 2017  1696 (partial period)  6.21



The FAA report included a discussion regarding this increase in sightings:

Reports of unmanned aircraft (UAS) sightings from pilots, citizens and law enforcement have increased dramatically over the past two years. The FAA now receives more than 100 such reports each month. The agency wants to send out a clear message that operating drones around airplanes, helicopters and airports is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.


The FAA continues to work closely with its industry partners through the “Know Before You Fly” campaign to educate unmanned aircraft users about where they can operate within the rules. The agency also is working closely with the law enforcement community to identify and investigate unauthorized unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorized flights in various parts of the country, and has many open enforcement cases.

This increase in unmanned aircraft traffic raises further concerns about airspace safety and illustrates the need for airspace awareness and detect-and-avoid for unmanned aircraft operations.

Read the full report: UAS Sightings Reports

For information about Vigilant Aerospace’s detect-and-avoid and airspace management products, visit our product pages here. Our system is based on an exclusively licensed NASA patent and prototype which has been the subject of extensive flight testing, flown in mission critical flights for NASA SonicBAT and NASA ND-MAX, and is currently in commercial test flights with select customers.


Image Credit: Caleb Woods / Unsplash

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