(Bloomberg) — The millions of small civilian drones plying the nation's skies can cause significant damage to airliners and business jets in a midair collision, new research commissioned by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration concluded.

While most drones weigh only a few pounds, they include motors and other metal equipment that could cause significant damage to aircraft engines, windshields or wings upon impact, according to the study by an FAA research center.

Even though airliners and other aircraft are designed to take impacts from birds, "it doesn't mean they are going to be able to withstand a 4-pound or an 8-pound UAS impact," said Gerardo Olivares, a researcher at Wichita State University who helped lead the study. He referred to drones as UAS, or unmanned aerial systems.

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