Drones: The New Worry for Aviation Accidents

Author: Auger Law | January 9th, 2018

drone with a camera in the airA new study has been released from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence. That study says that an airplane will sustain more damage from a collision with a drone than if a bird of similar size hit the plane.

Researchers conducting the study utilized computer models to simulate the impacts of quadcopters weighing 2.7 and 4 pounds. They also used models to simulate strikes with fixed-wing drones weight 4 and 8 pounds, respectively. They used both commercial airplanes and business airliners in the study. The researchers found that due to the materials the drones are constructed of, a collision would cause more damage than a similar collision with a bird.

The Damage Done by Drones

When hit with a drone, the study found that the greatest amount of damage was with the plane’s horizontal stabilizers. The least amount of damage was seen on the windshield of the planes. The study also looked at damage that would be sustained by the wing’s leading edge and vertical stabilizers. The amount of damage to those structures ranged from none to structure failure. In some instances the drone penetrated the airframe.

Commercial drone use is regulated by the FAA. One of the regulations include not being able to fly drones more than 400 feet above ground level. This height is thought to be low enough to not interfere with any aircraft. The agency says that despite calling the use of drones around aircraft both dangerous and illegal, it receives over 100 complaints each month regarding the use of drones.

What Experts Say

In a November 29 press release, Captain Tim Conoll of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, in Washington, said, “The dangers from [drones] are operated unsafely in the national airspace are real — as we’ve seen in two recent midair collisions. The findings released…in a Federal Aviation Administration-sponsored study, combined with previous data showing that near misses between [drones] and manned aircraft are occurring more often, provide compelling evidence that we need to act before tragedy strikes.” This statement was also reported in Safety+Health.

Drones are such a serious threat to aircraft that some missions have been delayed or canceled. For example, while battling a fire on Montana’s Rice Ridge, officials kept helicopters out of the sky because an unauthorized drone was spotted. During Hurricane Harvey, the public was warned to keep drones away from low-flying aircraft in Houston.

Drones are popular among both children and adults, but the general public is warned of the dangers of flying these machines in spaces where aircraft may be present. There is a very real danger to anyone piloting or riding in such a craft should it collide with a drone.

If you have been injured in an aviation accident in North Carolina, you may have legal rights to compensation. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and discover more about your options. We are here for you and your family and we will fight to recover the compensation you deserve.

Posted In: Aviation Accidents