Hazards to aircraft posed by drones, lasers addressed by Yeager, law enforcement officials

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CHARLESTON — In recent months, pilots have reported having beams from laser pointers wash through their cockpits on three occasions, while experiencing uncomfortably close encounters with drones three additional times as they approached or flew through restricted airspace at Charleston’s Yeager Airport, officials said.On Thursday, Yeager administrators, aircraft and drone pilots, Federal Aviation Administration personnel, Charleston police, Transportation Security Administration officers and FBI agents got together to discuss how to more efficiently share information on drone and laser incidents. The goal is to improve safety and increase the odds of identifying the unmanned aircraft operators responsible for near collisions.“Drone ownership is steadily increasing, and the more drones that are sold, the more sightings we’ll have at Yeager and other airports, increasing the likelihood of a collision,” said Russ Kennedy, operations chief at the Charleston airport.While thousands of drone/manned aircraft near misses are recorded annually in the U.S., collisions have been rare; nevertheless, an incident producing injury or death is virtually inevitable as more drones take to the sky, Kennedy said.“Airplanes have been brought down by birds, so there’s no reason to think that a drone as big as a crow getting sucked into a jet engine or crashing through a windshield won’t cause a crash someday,” Kennedy said.Among confirmed drone/manned-aircraft collisions on record are a September 2017 incident in which a civilian drone struck an Army UH-60 Black Hawk as it passed over Staten Island, New York, and a hot …

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