A hobby drone with a video camera. Photo by Don McCullough via Wikimedia Commons

A hobbyist group on Monday criticized a Federal Aviation Administration report on pilots’ close calls with drones, saying only a fraction of the incidents were truly “close calls” and “near misses.”

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, a 79-year-old organization with 176,000 members nationwide, analyzed the 764 encounters cited in the FAA report from August and found that just 27 were identified with explicit notations as a “near miss,” “near mid-air collision” or “NMAC.”

“Without a doubt, there are some records of ‘near misses’ that represent actual safety concerns, and more needs to be done to address those,” said Dave Mathewson, executive director of hobbyist group. “But our analysis also found that the number of ‘near misses’ is substantially lower than the number that was previously presented.”

The FAA report listed 764 drone sightings through Aug. 21 of this year, including 19 in the San Diego area. According to the report, most of the local sightings occurred near the San Diego, Carlsbad and Ramona airports as commercial, military and private aircraft were taking off or landing.

The hobbyist group noted that some of the most serious incidents in the FAA data involved government-authorized military drones, not civilian drones.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.