In what is being called a first-ever event, a civilian’s small drone has crashed into a US Army Black Hawk helicopter, an incident that underscores years of effort in establishing regulations designed to avoid such a collision. The incident happened over Staten Island late last week, according to officials, who say the drone was being operated in an illegal manner. The incident happened above a residential area.
Speaking about the incident, Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino said that the collision involved a civilian drone, but that it was not targeting the helicopter, which itself was operating above 500ft when the accident happened. Buccino went on to explain that the drone struck the helicopter’s fuselage, ultimately resulting in a dented window, two dented spots, and a damaged blade.
Fortunately, there was no further accident resulting from this collision, no one was harmed, and the helicopter was safely landed. However, the accident highlights the need for UAV pilots to obey regulations, particularly ones restricting usage in populated regions and forbidding operation anywhere near airports. As well, these drones must be kept below 400ft, which this particular drone was reportedly in violation of.
In a worst-case scenario, a collision like this could have resulted in a crash, which given the area over which it was flying, may have caused injuries or even death. The drone’s operator isn’t identified at this time — or at least hasn’t been revealed — though an investigation into the matter is currently underway.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen drones operated illegally, though it is perhaps the most serious infraction to date. This past summer, multiple people got in trouble for operating drones within an active wildfire, inhibiting firefighting efforts. People have also gotten into trouble over drone accidents, and there was even one legal case involving the destruction of a drone with a firearm.