nice bait but I won’t bite.
It is clearly not the impact on GA which will cause some stricter regulations on drones but the prospect of one damaging either airliners or vital aviation interests such as rescue helicopters. I think both have actually happened without yet any fatal outcome but the bigger the drones get, the higher the risk.
I grant you that drones are here to stay but how they will be used in the future is very much subject to debate. Personally I am clearly for regulating them from a specific weight class on upwards like anything else which flies. That means licencing for the users first and foremost plus possible detection equipment (ADS-B based) to display them on anti collision devices. Anything else is irresponsible.
The video above is being used as evidence of how little damage a drone might be expected to inflict on a slow moving helicopter.
They should have it pointed out to them that only the fuselage of a slow moving helicopter is moving slowly, the rotor tips on the other hand are always going extremely quickly. The main rotor of an AS350 turns at 394 RPM, its rotor diameter is 10.69m, so the rotor tips are moving at 220 metres per second (or just over 420 knots). It’s therefore conceivable that a drone could take off a portion of a rotor blade completely should it hit near the outer end of the blade, which would instantly result in an imbalance large enough to rip the helicopter to pieces in flight.
They should have it pointed out to them
I grant you that drones are here to stay but how they will be used in the future is very much subject to debate.
“By default, DJI’s GEO System limits flights into or taking off around locations such as airports, power plants, and prisons. They are also implemented temporarily around major stadium events, forest fires, or other emergency situations. If a flight within one of these locations has been authorized, GEO allows users with verified DJI accounts to temporarily unlock or self-authorize their flights. This unlock function is not available for sensitive national-security locations.”
Technology to the rescue (link)
I own a DJI repair centre, so I have a good amount of first-hand experience with how reckless drone operators (some of them like to be called “pilots”) can be.
For starters, most drones costing $700+ are absolute marvels of technology and are immensely capable photography platforms. Above all, they are very easy to fly and anyone can operate them with absolutely no knowledge, and that is precisely the problem.
With R/C planes and helicopters, a lot of time and money is required to develop the skills required to fly properly. Most people take at least a year of regular flying to become at all competent, so generally people take it a bit more seriously and don’t really do stupid stuff. That FPV video from a Spitfire on page #1, for example, is a totally custom built setup and people that do this kind of flying are careful with where they fly and monitor for traffic.
On the other hand, you can buy a drone, plug in your phone and off you go. DJI drones allow you to fly up to 400 metres altitude and as far away as you can go before running out of battery/range. Most drones can fly at least a couple of miles away, at which point you have no idea what is going on around the actual drone. Some people even fit range extenders (amplifiers/higher gain antennas), though we make a point of not offering services to people who do this sort of thing. This sort of capability allows users to fly recklessly without having to learn anything, including laws and regulations. DJI include a safety leaflet with every drone, but this will rarely be read. People rarely even read the instruction manual.
I’m painting with a broad brush here, however there are many drone users around who hold poor attitudes towards safety and regulation compliance, and it will only take one bad accident before drone laws tighten.
Drones are also pretty substantial. Some of the larger ones, such as Inspires, are quite robust and heavy, being made from magnesium alloy and carbon fibre. They would do a lot of damage to a light aircraft. In fact, I’m willing to bet that anything Phantom sized and upwards could easily make it through a GA aircraft windscreen and injure/kill occupants. If a bird can make it through a windshield, a drone sure as hell will.
In fact, I don’t understand why there is any debate at all as to whether a drone will cause damage to an aircraft. Of course a drone will cause damage, there is simply no question. Whether it will cause enough damage to bring down an aircraft depends on the drone, the aircraft and the nature of the incident. My take on this is that the accident shouldn’t happen in the first place! Bird strikes can’t always be avoided, since you can’t tell birds where to go. However, someone is in complete control of a drone, and the are on the ground and can easily observe for traffic, provided they aren’t flying like a dick. So there’s no excuse. DJI’s geofencing does work to a degree and is much better than having no protection at all. It’s still far from foolproof though and it’s only a matter of time before a bad accident happens.
With R/C planes and helicopters, a lot of time and money is required to develop the skills required to fly properly. Most people take at least a year of regular flying to become at all competent, so generally people take it a bit more seriously and don’t really do stupid stuff
And also the people who do the stupid stuff generally start finding that it gets far too expensive and either quit doing stupid stuff, or quit RC.
fly up to 400 metres altitude
Is that 400 metres, or feet? Big difference!
IO390 shows no personal detail in his profile so it is difficult to know in which country he is located. Certainly in aal European countries I know of the max altitude is around 400 FEET.
Thanks for clarifying that IO390. If that’s correct, then it’s an outrageous situation that needs to be closed down by the EU as expediently as possible. GA, with no effective collision avoidance technology, relies on these things being operated below 500’ and many people believe that they are, but this revelation may explain why some pilots are reporting encounters at higher levels.
If they really are programmed out of the box to operate up to 1300’ (is that AGL – you said ‘altitude’ but that means some users would have to fly them underground), they constitute a real danger to life in our crowded skies, not just GA but military and of course CAT.
It would be a simple matter to detain the shipping containers until the devices are modified, or pushed off the quay in order to float back to China. (Oh no, that would be a hazard to shipping).