Better technology and tougher enforcement of the rules is needed for the safe operation of drones

THE airspace over London is among the most crowded in the world. The soaring popularity of small unmanned drones has added to the congestion. After several close encounters, drone and plane now appear to have collided. Police are investigating a report that on April 17th a British Airways flight from Geneva was hit on its nose cone by a drone as it approached Heathrow airport. Thankfully there was negligible damage. But stricter enforcement of regulations and better technology are required to prevent more serious accidents.

The scale of the problem is unclear. Sales of drones in Britain and many countries are not counted. The vast majority of them are small. Those the size of a large insect are not much to worry about. But drones of up to 25kg are a graver threat. And the sales trend is upward. America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reckons consumer sales could grow from 1.9m in 2016 to as many as 4.3m by 2020.

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