Air Force Plane, Drone Collide

Accident renews criticisms of using drones in civilian airspace
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2011 8:49 AM CDT
This image provided by the US Air Force show an RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. An RQ-7 collided with a military cargo plane in Afghanistan on Monday.   (AP Photo/US Air Force - John Schwab, file)

(Newser) – A C-130 cargo plane made an emergency landing in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, after colliding with a 12-foot-by-20-foot RQ-7 Shadow unmanned drone, reports the Wall Street Journal. The cargo plane was only slightly damaged and none of its crew was injured, but the incident is expected to step up criticisms of potential plans to operate unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, in civilian airspace.

"One of the things that limits their use in civilian airspace is that there is no reliable technology right now that allows UAV operators to independently see and avoid other aircraft," says an aviation official. For now, the military depends on temporary restrictions and route clearances to keep airspace safe when using UAVs, but it is working on "sense and avoid" technologies to keep drones away from planes.

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