Concerned by a rise in near-collisions by unmanned aircraft and commercial jets, the world’s airlines back the development of a UN-led global registry for drones, an executive of the airlines’ trade group said on Wednesday.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) backs efforts by the United Nations’ aviation agency to develop such a register.
The efforts could also help track the incidents involving drones and jets, said Rob Eagles, IATA’s director of air traffic management infrastructure.
IATA would consider collaborating with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), using the registry for data analysis to improve safety.
ICAO is developing the registry as part of broader efforts to come up with common rules for flying and tracking unmanned aircraft.
“We will like to see one of the important things on a registry and the compilation of data.
“Such compilation will include incident and accident reporting,’’ Eagles said in an interview on the side-line of IATA’s Safety and Flight Ops Conference in Montreal.
Airlines and airport operators are looking to drone registries, geo-fencing technology and stiffer penalties for operating drones near airports.
They hope these steps will ensure flying remains safe as hobbyists and companies like Amazon.com Inc. use more drones.
In Britain, the number of near misses between drones and aircraft more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, with 92 incidents recorded last year, according to the U.K. Airprox Board.
Air New Zealand Ltd said last month a flight from Tokyo with 278 passengers and crew on board encountered a drone estimated to be just five meters away from the Boeing 777-200 jet during its descent into Auckland.
A single registry would create a one-stop-shop that would allow law enforcement to remotely identify and track unmanned aircraft along with their operator and owner.
It’s not yet clear what kind of drones would be listed in the registry.
However, IATA would support the inclusion of most drones, including large unmanned aircraft and smaller ones used for commercial and industrial purposes, Eagles said.
“The intention at present is to merge this activity into the ICAO registry for manned aircraft so that the sector has a single consolidated registry network,’’ said ICAO spokesman, Anthony Philbin by email.