Pilots have reported 700 incidents of close calls with drones so far this year, the Washington Post reports. That is three times as many incidents as there were in 2014, and as recently as 2013 this issue was non-existent.
Although there are bans against flying drones near airports or above 400 feet, many pilots are reporting seeing drones near runways and as high as 10,000 feet. They say the devices fly so close to their aircraft that they often don’t have enough time to respond. Luckily none of the incidents have resulted in a mid-flight clash thus far.
Drones are too small to appear on an airplane’s radar, making them difficult to avoid. Although most of them weigh just a few pounds, aviation experts say that they could still cause a huge disaster if they’re sucked into an engine or they crash into a propeller or windshield.
The Consumer Electronics Association has predicted a 63% increase in drone sales this year, bringing the number up to 700,000. Manufacturers are responding to these incidents by including software that prevents drones from operating in certain areas and at certain heights. However, it’s possible that some drone users can discover ways to get around the software.