The UK insurance industry has been given another timely wake-up call by events which could easily have spiralled out of control in recent days; and brings the contentious issue of drone use/responsibility/liability firmly back into the spotlight once again.
Various news sources reported an incident which took place as a plane making an approach to Heathrow Airport was struck by a drone, shortly before it made what turned out to be a safe landing. London Metropolitan Police confirmed the incident involving a passenger aircraft and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had occurred, subsequently providing details of a British Airways flight from Geneva and an unspecified drone, which has since triggered an investigation conducted by Heathrow-based aviation police.
This incident represents the first of its kind ever recorded in UK airspace, and will set alarm bells ringing with critics who have long warned of such scenarios being a significant probability as the surge in use of drones shows no signs of abating.
What’s more, implied governance and the (not so) small matter of public liability and insurance is still in the throes of being ironed out. Only last month, a flight safety specialist at the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), forecast that incidents of this very nature were increasingly likely due to the volume of drones now in circulation, and with substantiated reports that a sizeable number were being facilitated in dangerous proximity to airports.
Drone Risks Heightened By Recent Collision between Passenger Plane and UAV
BALPA is currently lobbying the government to address the situation by suggesting the registering of drones so that tracing owners of such airborne devices would be easier in the event of accidents taking place, whilst also recommending that a part of that process would necessitate the training and safety implications of UAV operation with regards to owners.
America is addressing the problem posed by the burgeoning use of drones over there by way of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) exploring what options are available at this current time and establishing some form of regulatory measures to impose, taking into account all key aspects of drone ownership/facilitation including the vital questions of security, privacy, insurance and liability.
Speaking with www.intelligentinsurer.com, the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Head of Policy and Research, Laurence Baxter reiterated the pressing need to get the right people and controlling authorities sat around the appropriate table to discuss and ultimately provide resolutions and stipulations surrounding the safe use of drones and how best to avoid future collisions involving all parties.
Failure to do so could lead to far graver outcomes according to Baxter who went on to add; “There are growing numbers of drones but unfortunately relatively little progress in thinking about better safeguards, despite the fact that they could pose a threat to not just jet airliners but smaller aircraft and helicopters. Many experts consider it can only be a matter of time before a major accident occurs.”