Computer simulation of a drone-aircraft collision. (Image: ASSURE)

An FAA study concluded that drone collisions with aircraft cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for given impact speed. Even small unmanned aircraft systems can do significant damage to engines.

Reports of close calls between drones and airliners have surged, with the FAA receiving more than 100 sightings a month of drones posing potential risks to planes, such as operating too close to airports. The team evaluated the potential impacts of drones weighing 2.7 to 8 pounds on a single-aisle commercial transport jet and a business jet.

The researchers concluded that drone manufacturers should adopt “detect and avoid” or “geo-fencing” capabilities to reduce the probability of collisions with other aircraft.