Back in 2014 I asked whether small drone aircraft were being contemplated as a terrorist weapon against commercial aviation. I speculated that the growing number of near-misses between drones and airliners might be a deliberate tactic.
That number has now become a torrent. As far as I can tell, not a single day goes by without a potentially dangerous incident occurring somewhere in the world . . . usually more than one. A simple Internet search turns up over half a million returns. Here's the latest report I've noticed, this one from Britain.
A dangerous drone owner almost brought down an airliner by flying his remote controlled craft within 10 feet of the jet in pitch darkness.
Normally, aircrews can take avoiding action if they spot one of the unmanned drones nearby.
But this is thought to be the first time there has been a near miss at night - and was seen only because it was caught in the plane’s landing lights.
The drone was so close only “providence” prevented a collision with the Boeing 777, carrying hundreds of passengers, says a report.
The incident, classed as a category A risk - the highest short of an actual crash - marks a terrifying escalation of the dangers posed by drones, currently at a record level.
There's more at the link.
I simply can't believe that all these incidents are caused by uncaring and/or unthinking drone owners flying their aircraft where they shouldn't. Statistically, that would seem to be impossible. Given the sheer volume of such incidents (which grows every day), I believe at least some - probably more than a few - must be caused by would-be terrorists trying to bring about a collision between their drone and an airliner.
Damaging or bringing down a commercial aircraft with a drone would have an enormous impact, affecting air travel throughout the world as worried passengers canceled their flights. It would garner enormous publicity for the organization responsible. What's more, the guilty person(s) would have a very good chance of escaping scot-free, ready, willing and able to do the same thing again. You don't need a fanatic willing to die for his or her cause. There are so many unregistered drones out there that I doubt the person or persons responsible would ever be traced, unless they were caught in the act. The impact between a drone and an airliner isn't likely to leave very much forensic evidence, particularly if the former is sucked into an engine of the latter.
More than ever, I'm glad I don't have to fly commercially very often.