The European aviation authority EASA recently published its annual Safety Review. That report lists all aviation-related occurrences and incidents in Europe. The report shows that the number of (near) collisions involving drones has decreased significantly since 2018. In fact, only one serious incident was recorded in 2021.
According to EASA, there are growing concerns about the risk of collisions between drones and manned aircraft, as drones are becoming more readily available. For this reason, new European regulations on drones were introduced in 2019. This came into force at the end of 2020 after some delay.
However, the number of reports of (near) collisions with drones has already fallen sharply since 2018 - long before the EU drone regulations came into force. While there were still 12 'airborne collisions' and 'near collisions' reported in 2018, in 2019 and 2020 there were only two per year. In 2021, only one (near) collision with a drone was even reported.
The chart below shows the number of reports of drone-related incidents received by EASA in recent years:
The decline in incidents may be explained by drone manufacturers such as DJI increasingly building safety measures into their drones, including geofencing. This prevents unwitting drone pilots from taking off near airports or heliports. Several European member states, including the Netherlands, have also been stepping up education on safe drone flying for some time.
It should also be noted that commercial air traffic in Europe was largely down as of the end of 2019 due to the corona crisis, and so there was also less risk of collisions with drones. But that does not explain why there were hardly any incidents throughout 2019.
EASA stresses that the reports come almost exclusively from commercial professional aviation and air traffic control organisations. According to EASA, better insight into the actual number of potentially dangerous situations involving drones can only be gained once more detailed information about illegal drone flights becomes available. This is where the Remote ID, mandatory from 2024, could potentially play a role.