THE number of drones flying too close to airliners and other aircraft in the US increased 408 per cent year on year in 2015, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
By the second half of last year, there were an average of four reports per day, according to agency figures, reported Bloomberg News.
"We have a number of educational initiatives with our government and industry partners to teach drone operators how to fly safely, including the drone registry we launched last December," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.
"But enforcement goes hand-in-hand with education, and we will take action against anyone who operates irresponsibly to the full extent of the law."
The incidents grew substantially over the same period a year earlier, even as the FAA began a mandatory registration system for owners of all but the smallest toy drones.
There were 93 incidents in January after the registration system for newly purchased drones went into place, compared with January 26.
There were no reported collisions in the latest data and most incidents were sightings with little chance of a mid-air impact.
On January 30, ExpressJet Airlines pilots spotted a white drone within 300 feet (91 metres) while flying at 19,500 feet (5,944 metres) near Atlanta, said the FAA.
ExpressJet is a regional carrier operating flights for American Airlines Group, Delta Air Lines and United Continental Holdings, according to its website.
Other close calls involving airliners occurred above Miami, Chicago and Salt Lake City, according to FAA.
The FAA requires that drones fly below 400 feet (122 metres) and steer clear of other aircraft. It also says drone operators must stay more than five miles from airports unless they get permission from air-traffic controllers.
The agency predicts there will be 2.5 million drones sold this year and annual sales will climb to seven million by 2020.
Source : HKSG.