April 18, 2018 / 4:24 PM / 5 months ago

Drone incidents rise less than expected in Germany in 2017

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Incidents involving drones and commercial aircraft rose last year in Germany though less than expected given the popularity of the devices, air traffic authorities said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere watches a test of a new police drone in Potsdam, Germany, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

An increase in near collisions by unmanned aircraft and commercial jets has fueled safety concerns in the aviation industry and on Tuesday the world’s airlines endorsed the development of a U.N.-led global registry for drones.

The Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) air traffic authority said the number of incidents involving drones flying near commercial aircraft rose to 88 in 2017, up from 66 the previous year.

“Until July, we had a very strong growth rate of incidents, so we originally thought that the 66 incidents from 2016 would be doubled, but they didn’t,” DFS Chief Executive Klaus-Dieter Scheurle told a news conference on Wednesday. So far this year, 14 incidents have been reported.

He said that work by the DFS to educate the public on the risks involved with flying drones close to commercial air traffic was paying off. A free app launched by the DFS to show the rules has had 35,000 active users since July.

Germany last year introduced rules requiring drone users to add their name and address to devices, with those wanting to operate drones weighing over 2 kilograms requiring a certificate from the aviation authority or an aviation sport club to prove they have the requisite knowledge to safely fly them.

Drones are used in Germany for private hobbies, police work and commercial activity including farming, filming, radio communications and checking wind turbines. German postal group Deutsche Post has trialed drones for deliveries.

In Britain, the number of near misses between private drones and aircraft more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, with 92 incidents recorded last year, according to the U.K. Airprox Board.

Last year, there were more than 350,000 new drones in Germany and the number is expected to rise to 400,000 this year, according to the Nuremberg-based GfK institute.

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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