FAA details upswing in close calls between drones, airplanes

The FAA has announced the instances of close calls between drones and airplanes has increased drastically over recent months. According to the administration, pilots have reported in excess of 650 close calls with drones up through August 9, a big jump over last year's 238 reports. Drone use near airports, airplanes, and helicopters is forbidden and extremely dangerous. That hasn't stopped operators from carelessly flying near them, and the FAA has warned that it isn't going easy in such cases — operators could face jail time for flying near planes.

The FAA detailed the latest close call numbers on Wednesday. Says the administration, the reports come from pilots operating "a variety of" different aircraft types, and counted among them are the large commercial airplanes carrying large numbers of passengers. The number of reports that took place over the last two months greatly eclipsed the number of reports made during the same months last year.

In 2014, there were reports from 16 pilots of nearby drones in June, and 36 pilots reports in July. This year 138 pilots reported seeing drones nearby at altitudes up to 10,000ft in June, and 137 made reports last month. This follows news of Californian fire fighters having trouble fighting wildfires due to drones being operated in the area.

The FAA says it will continue working with various partners in an effort to educate the public on proper drone usage. It warns that it is also working with the police, however, to find operators who are violating the regulations, and that it has already hit some individuals with "civil penalties" for violations. It also revealed that it has "dozens of open enforcement cases" right now.