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Helicopter and Drone collision.

jaja6009

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Looks like a confirmed collision between an unknown Make/Model drone and a tourist helicopter.
 
One wonders if the helicopter pilot was cleared to fly that low.
The drone pilot also appears to be at fault for looking at their tablet.
How could they fail to notice the appraoch of the helicopter?
If they are not deaf how could they fail to hear an appraoching helicopter.
Possibly a lucky escape for both parties but I wouldn't fancy being the drone pilot.
 
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The drone pilot, unless he had successfully obtained a waiver, was flying in controlled airspace with a maximum LAANC approval of 50' AGL I can't emphasize enough the importance of checking airspace before heading out.

1704066489492.png
 
The drone pilot, unless he had successfully obtained a waiver, was flying in controlled airspace with a maximum LAANC approval of 50' AGL I can't emphasize enough the importance of checking airspace before heading out.

View attachment 171500
If that is correct I hope he has sired all the kids his wife wants lol.
 
We need to not speculate here.

I have some information about this that will all come out in public as the investigation proceeds. Both the Remote Pilot's report to the FAA and the COA have been sent to me. So yes, there was an active COA involved, I can share that because it's public knowledge. And the helicopter was taking off from near the flight.

A mutual friend of the pilot involved reach out to me when it happened. The pilot reached out to him for advice, and then he reached out to me. I also sent him some contact information for a drone lawyer in Florida that I know.

Mistakes were made, we'll see where it leads. But both aircraft were allowed to be there, basically at the altitudes they were supposed to be at.

But mistakes were made.
 
I use news like this to keep our pilots attentive. Even with COAs, COWs and the like we have to remember to always be ready for the absolute unexpected.

We have the same exact Robinson R44 tourism helicopter in some of our heavy operations areas. And after speaking with the pilot, we always assumed that he could see our large M300RTK, and it turned out he could not always see it and at times never knew it was up and operating.
 
One wonders if the helicopter pilot was cleared to fly that low.
The drone pilot also appears to be at fault for looking at their tablet.
How could they fail to notice the appraoch of the helicopter?
If they are not deaf how could they fail to hear an appraoching helicopter.
Possibly a lucky escape for both parties but I wouldn't fancy being the drone pilot.
I read it was a construction site, so ambient noise easily could've impeded the pilot's ability to hear a helicopter. And I don't think one can assign fault just because the pilot was looking at his tablet. Maintaining VLOS and "looking at your tablet" to get the images you need are not mutually exclusive.

I do think that Airsense/ADSB potentially could've prevented this, although it's not guaranteed that the helicopter would've been using it.
 
Maintaining VLOS and "looking at your tablet" to get the images you need are not mutually exclusive.
But it suggests to me that he was looking at the tablet for 'long enough', otherwise surely he would have seen the helicopter approaching?
 
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But it suggests to me that he was looking at the tablet for a 'long' time, otherwise surely he would have seen the helicopter approaching?
"He was looking down at his tablet when he heard a loud impact, then noticed his drone was no longer in the air," VSO said in a Facebook post."

That may be the case, but there's nothing in the linked article to indicate it was.
 
But it suggests to me that he was looking at the tablet for a 'long' time, otherwise surely he would have seen the helicopter approaching?
The thing about helicopters is that they are pretty fast! And depending on where the pilot was standing he may not have had a view that afforded him a lot of time to see a very low-flying helicopter approaching even if he was looking at the drone and not his tablet.

Obviously the investigation may reveal a lot of key details, but there certainly are situations where no one is doing anything "wrong" and a collision can still occur. Perhaps things could've been differently that would've resulted in no impact, but it's possible that neither pilot is at fault from a legal perspective (in which case the FAA will probably make some new rule that adds a huge burden for drone pilots to prevent such an event from happening again).
 
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but it's possible that neither pilot is at fault from a legal perspective (in which case the FAA will probably make some new rule that adds a huge burden for drone pilots to prevent such an event from happening again).
Whether negligent or not, it's undeniable that the drone pilot failed to give way to a manned aircraft. That's a basic and simple requirement in the regulations. So, he's at fault.

What regulation might the helicopter pilot have violated that led to the collision?
 
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Whether negligent or not, it's undeniable that the drone pilot failed to give way to a manned aircraft. That's a basic and simple requirement in the regulations. So, he's at fault.

What regulation might the helicopter piolet have violated that led to the collision?
Giving way, particularly in a scenario like this, doesn't seem as cut-and-dried to me, but I'm not a lawyer and we don't know all the facts. But to me, *failing* to give way involves having a certain amount of knowledge and then failing to act. But I can see a situation where a UAS operator is fully in compliance with the rules but is in a position where they may not perceive the manned aircraft to which they are required to give way.

Not the best analogy, but if you are driving and a child darts into the street in a crosswalk from behind some parked cars and you hit them, are you at fault? You are required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, after all. But certainly some circumstantial mitigating factors are at play?

Again, it could turn out that the drone pilot is completely at fault and this could've easily been avoided. But based on the information I've seen I think it's possible this incident occurred in that liminal space where the rules don't cover every potential scenario, and I can imagine the FAA saying "no one is technically at fault, but now we need new rules to address this gap."

As to what the helicopter pilot might've been doing wrong...I don't know. Maybe nothing, maybe a lot of things!
 
Giving way, particularly in a scenario like this, doesn't seem as cut-and-dried to me, but I'm not a lawyer and we don't know all the facts. But to me, *failing* to give way involves having a certain amount of knowledge and then failing to act. But I can see a situation where a UAS operator is fully in compliance with the rules but is in a position where they may not perceive the manned aircraft to which they are required to give way.

Not the best analogy, but if you are driving and a child darts into the street in a crosswalk from behind some parked cars and you hit them, are you at fault? You are required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, after all. But certainly some circumstantial mitigating factors are at play?

Again, it could turn out that the drone pilot is completely at fault and this could've easily been avoided. But based on the information I've seen I think it's possible this incident occurred in that liminal space where the rules don't cover every potential scenario, and I can imagine the FAA saying "no one is technically at fault, but now we need new rules to address this gap."

As to what the helicopter pilot might've been doing wrong...I don't know. Maybe nothing, maybe a lot of things!
Drivers must yield to pedestrians who are lawfully in the crosswalk.

Drone pilots must yield to manned aircraft at all times. The drone pilot is always at fault when there is a collision.
 
The thing about helicopters is that they are pretty fast! And depending on where the pilot was standing he may not have had a view that afforded him a lot of time to see a very low-flying helicopter approaching even if he was looking at the drone and not his tablet.
Then he was not in VLOS and at fault.

Obviously the investigation may reveal a lot of key details, but there certainly are situations where no one is doing anything "wrong" and a collision can still occur. Perhaps things could've been differently that would've resulted in no impact, but it's possible that neither pilot is at fault from a legal perspective (in which case the FAA will probably make some new rule that adds a huge burden for drone pilots to prevent such an event from happening again).

Three simple words - "See And Avoid" have been at the core of UA's very existence in the NAS since the beginning. It is our primary job as UA pilots to see an avoid all manned aircraft. Period. It is why we must currently fly VLOS. There is no airspace anywhere in the US where that premise is relaxed. The 'huge burden' on drone pilots to prevent such an accident has always been with us and will always be, though in the future that rule will become "Detect And Avoid" but never-the-less, it is ultimately our (UAs) pilots to avoid manned aviation.
 
As Vic said, let’s not keep speculating and attaching blame on limited information. All good and well to play “arm chair pilot” without official, correct information, but this goes against the just culture of aviation investigations
 
As Vic said, let’s not keep speculating and attaching blame on limited information. All good and well to play “arm chair pilot” without official, correct information, but this goes against the just culture of aviation investigations
For sure I hope this post is revisited when/if the results, reports, and conclusions are made available. Reading the comments in the article, many are hilarious. The rules and regulations might be straightforward but there is major confusion amongst the general public with sadly includes *pilots*. I would be thrilled if this ended up with the drone pilot getting a pass and not taking the fault if he didn't do anything wrong, which we don't yet know. I'm not a fan of automatically assigning the blame regardless the facts just because it is manned v. unmanned....and, maybe it isn't really that way; maybe *I* misunderstand that. FAA will set it straight. Either way, the helicopter apparently has serious damage that needs to be paid for.
 
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would your NTSB be doing the investigation?
Here in Australia the ATSB (your NTSB) conducts investigations and releases findings of investigation. CASA (FAA) then use findings and use the information for regulatory purposes
 
would your NTSB be doing the investigation?
Here in Australia the ATSB (your NTSB) conducts investigations and releases findings of investigation. CASA (FAA) then use findings and use the information for regulatory purposes
This is pretty old so I'm sure there is something newer or more relevant perhaps even more up to date whether things have changed or not. At least with the NTSB you would get a factual (fair) investigation.

 
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