Keith Laing THE HILL
Hero Pilot Predicts Drones Will Cause Plane Crashes
August 3, 2015
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  • The pilot who landed a jetliner safely on the Hudson River in New York City in 2011 is predicting that nonmilitary drones will cause plane crashes as they become more prevalent in commercial airspace.

    “We have seen what a six-pound or an eight-pound bird can do to bring down an airplane. Imagine what a device containing hard parts like batteries and motors can do that might weigh 25 or possibly up to 55 pounds to bring down an airplane,” former U.S. Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger said during an appearance on Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

    “It is not a matter of if it will happen,” continued Sullenberger, who is now a CBS News contributor. “It is a matter of when it will happen.

    The Federal Aviation Administration is developing regulations for allowing commercial drones that weigh less than 55 pounds to be flown in the U.S.
    The agency has faced tremendous pressure to approve a rapid expansion of nonmilitary drone use from companies such as Amazon, who have said the technology can be used to make speedier online deliveries.

    Police and other law enforcement groups were also seeking approval to use the technology, and the FAA has investigated several drone incidents that occurred in conjunction with photography at college and professional sporting events.

    Sullenberger groups drones in with lasers as threats to the safety of commercial airline flights.

    “Because they are easy to get and they’re relatively inexpensive, these devices are becoming ubiquitous. And that is true not just of drones, but of laser-pointer attack,” he said.

    “And so it allows people to do stupid, reckless, dangerous things with abandon,” Sullenberger continued. “I am heartened that the aviation and the legal authorities have raised the penalties for doing these things.

    Unfortunately, the essential element that is still missing is the certainty of prosecution, because it has been difficult to catch them in the act. This must stop.”