The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a worldwide airlines trade association. It is made up of 278 airlines, primarily major carriers, operating in 117 countries. The IATA's member airlines account for carrying approximately 83% of total air traffic.
The IATA announced Tuesday at a trade group, it was advocating for the development of a UN-led global drone registry. The world’s airline companies are increasingly concerned about the rise in near-collisions between drones and manned aircraft.
Near-collisions between drones and manned aircrafts are not localized to any particular country, all countries are experiencing this rising problem. The U.K. Airprox Board reported that the number of near-misses between drones and airplanes in Britain has more than tripled between 2015 and 2017. Recently, there has been a string of news reports from New Zealand involving drones and planes. A pilot reported that a drone may have caused him to crash his plane, after the drone smashed into the plane's windshield. New Zealand Air reported a close-encounter between an airline and a drone. New Zealand has experienced an increase in drone activity near airports.
With the number of drones being sold and registered increasing, the problem is likely not a passing fad. It is a new issue airlines must confront and mitigate.
IATA vice-president Gilberto Lopez-Meyer stated the group would consider a joint global registry with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The two groups are meeting today to discuss such initiative.
"One of the important things we would like to see on a registry, as well, is the compilation of data which would include incident and accident reporting," Rob Eagles said in an interview on the sidelines of IATA's Safety and Flight Ops Conference in Montreal. Rob Eagles is currently the IATA's director of air traffic management infrastructure.
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 more drones are flown in the skies.
Instead of a patchwork of databases, a single registry would create a one-stop shop that would allow law enforcers to remotely identify and track unmanned aircraft, along with their operator and owner. ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin 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."