Toy Drones More Dangerous to Planes Than Birds

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FORT WORTH -- As if pilots don't have enough to worry about. -- terrorists, laser pointers, angry passengers and birds. Now, a new study is adding drones to the list.

"At Dallas Love Field, there's been several near misses with Virgin America and Southwest, so we face a real danger in the metropolitan area," said W. Hulsey Smith, CEO of Aero Kinetics, which conducted the study.

It turns out, the consequences of flying drones in the national airspace system, even toy drones, could be more costly and deadly than birds when it comes to bringing down a plane.

"I believe it was 2014, there was about a billion dollars in cost associated to the aerospace industry through bird strikes," Smith said. "It is a virtual certainty that a drone strike will occur. It's simply a matter of time."

This is scary stuff for a pilot. Right now, although owners do have to register their drone, Smith says it's not nearly enough.

"The FAA does not have significant regulatory authority to actually regulate the toy drone industry.  We need to have additional funding for the FAA to meet the challenges at hand and we need to have a clear path to ascertain the airworthiness of the toy drones."

With more and more drone stores popping up, like DronesPlus  in Frisco, you can bet more drones will be hovering over DFW.

"Toy drones can be bought for as expensive as $40," Smith said. "This year, we've estimated a million consumer toy drones are going to be purchased the holiday season. That's a million new potential threats to manned aircraft."

Making the skies a lot less friendly.

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