How Safe are Drones?

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Technological advances in recent years have resulted in significant inventions. Drones are one of the technologies that have gained a lot of attention. Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, are aircraft that are operated by pilots on the ground or by a pre-programmed command. Initially, the use of drones was intended for surveillance purposes. However, as technology advances, the inception and proliferation of drones have resulted in their increased use for other purposes. With the utilization of drones for surveillance and military purpose, there exist certain drawbacks associated with the use of drones, which can have a severe impact on the society.
Undeniably, the use of drones has skyrocketed over the recent years (Forte & Campana 73). Even though the main purpose of the drones was for use in areas that are not easily accessible by humans, with time their uses have advanced to the military purposes and domestic use. In the military sector, the use of drones has become a risky act considering these military machines possess missiles, which can be detonated at any time (Forte & Campana 75). The danger associated with the use of the drones can be seen in the case of the drone seen flying into Los Angeles Airport at a range of 8,000 feet, which caused great debate. This was very risky considering it is the same altitude at which normal commercial planes fly while holding a pattern (Forte & Campana 75).
Furthermore, there was another drone that was seen flying at Istanbul, which is the fifth busiest airport across the globe (Forte & Campana 76). The drone raised eyebrows because the airport claims that the airport is geofenced and has the protection of an electronic exclusion, which prevents any drone from entering within the same zone. The presence of such drones in zones that are frequently used by commercial planes could lead to severe accidents, which might result in the loss of human lives due to negligence brought about by individuals who are not well trained to fly such kind of machines (Forte & Campana 76).
To reduce the probability of accidents taking place within the United Kingdom airspace, the CAA has established a limit that any drone flight must be conducted within unaided, direct line of sight of the pilot. Furthermore, the pilot is not allowed to fly the drone 500 meters from where the pilot is and 400 meters above the ground (Smith 130). Meanwhile, drones are supposed to maintain a distance of around 150 meters from regions that are congested, while they should also not be flown anywhere directly to people, vessel, vehicles and property unless the individuals are under the authority of the people responsible for the drones (Smith 131). However, there have been numerous cases where these rules have been flagrantly flouted.
After a careful assessment of the situation, most aviation authorities are making efforts to implement similar regulations (Smith 132). This is because the drones are not easily detectable by radar. The use of air traffic control radar system is built only with the capability of detecting planes that are big in size and not drones, which are small in size and can fly at a speed of 45mph at a low altitude (Smith 132).
Considering drones cannot be detected while we also don’t trust those operating the drones, it is high time that we stop considering them as a toy but rather as harmful air vehicles similar to other aircraft. Therefore, it is vital that we get to regulate their usage both for safety and commercial use. Contrary to America, where the FAA needs all types of drones that have a weight of over 250 grammes to be registered (Smith 134). The operator in the United Kingdom is not under the strict rule to register the planes or to possess any licences that allow them to fly the drones (Smith 134).
Unfortunately, the versatility and utility exercised by drones have caught the eyes of criminal individuals, who have ill motives. In fact, news issued along the Mexican and American border indicate that drug cartels are using drones for the purpose of transporting illegal drugs right from Mexico to the United States of America (Smith 138). Additionally, similar cases have been reported in Australia and Russia where drones are used by convicts to transport contrabands items such as the drugs into the prisons. The occurrences of such incidents have made the law enforcers get concerned about the level of criminal that can be conducted, while also assessing the capability of drones on criminals when they advance to a new technology. Recently, there was a high-profile incident that occurred within the premises of the White House (Smith 139). One of the secret agents found a drone that had crashed into the white house lawn. Even though the act was not conducted with the aim of causing any hostile attack to the white house, it was a clear indication of the potential vulnerability to drone even in regions that are deemed as the most secure areas across the globe (Smith 139).
Another risk involved with the use of drones is a third-party liability (Custers 253). In the events that a commercial breakout takes place, which appears to be inevitable based on the high number of users for the purpose of airborne cameras, organisations that hire the services offered of the drones will need to assess their contract to check on the liabilities they are bound to incur (Custers 253). Therefore, this implies that those providing the drones will be on the hook, however, a thorough review of the contract should be done.
Drone’s risks can also be referred to as primary standard aviation risks. Those who owns the aircraft will have the desire to ensure that their aircraft are secured if there is an accident as well as they will be able to cater for the ensuing liabilities (Custers 253). In this interim level, where drones that have been approved and can be used legally for non-commercial purposes, the companies, which own the aircraft will need to search for the aviation cover.
Those advocating for the use of drones claim that it has the potential to drive major economic benefits. In fact, a report that was done by PwC which is a consultancy firm stated in its report that the use of UAV had a higher probability of building a worldwide market worth $ 127 billion (Custers 253). According to the consultancy firm, drones were vital and efficient in monitoring land from the sky since they can get a bird’s view due to its cameras and sensors. The bird’s view is vital and undisputable evidence that is collected digitally. However, the downside of this advantage is that most of the drones created cannot stay in the sky for a longer period before they have to land for recharging (Custers 254). The recharging process hinders the ability of the observers to continue surveillance from the sky through the utilisation of drowns.
The future trend involved with drones concern their legalisation for domestic use. This is based on the easy availability of drones, which often are licenced to individuals who are not fully conversant with the best way to navigate them (Custers 254). As a result, the probability of accidents taking place between the drones and other drones or even aircraft are bound to increase. The most effective way to deal with the situation is to implement a thorough training to be exercised by those who desire to purchase and fly drones. Furthermore, those involved in accidents involving drones should be subject to punishment to regulate their availability (Custers 254).
In conclusion, over the recent years according to the Civil Aviation Authority, cases of 23 accident related to the use of drones have been reported merely within the past six months. Surprisingly, these incidents are not limited within the British skies. According to information from the Federal Aviation Authority of US, America encounter more than 100 reports of drone accident every year. Based on the above information, it is clear that the use of drones poses as a serious ticking bomb. The essay works to discuss the risk associated with the use of drones both for the purpose of surveillance and military. Personally, drones pose a serious threat since they are majorly controlled by machines and are prone to malfunction, which can result in the severe accident including accidents with commercials planes. Therefore, the drones should be prohibited, while in case they are permitted, strict measures should be utilised by the users.

Works Cited

Custers, Bart. The Future of Drone Use: Opportunities and Threats from Ethical and Legal Perspectives. The Hague: Asser Press, 2016. Internet resource.
Forte, Maurizio, and Stefano Campana, eds. Digital Methods and Remote Sensing in Archaeology: Archaeology in the Age of Sensing. Springer, 2017.
Smith, Patrick. Ask the pilot: everything you need to know about air travel. Penguin, 2004.

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