UK government to test crashing UAVs into passenger aircraft


UK government ministers are reported to have ordered the Department of Transport (DoT), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to begin testing the effects of small consumer drone (quadcopters) impacts with commercial airliners, the UK media has reported. This is to investigate what the implications may be for safety.

UK defense company Qinetiq will conduct the £250,000 (US$304,000) contract for testing in a 5,000-square mile testing range in the restricted airspace around Snowdonia in northern Wales.

The airline industry has grave concerns about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) hitting commercial aircraft, with scenarios to be investigated including the breaking of a cockpit window by a UAV collision, and the possibility of a drone ingested into an engine causing catastrophic failure.

There were a number of near misses with drones during the summer of 2016, with incidents at Manchester Airport, Cornwall Airport Newquay and London Stansted Airport.

The National Air Traffic Service and the CAA investigated 23 near misses between drones and aircraft in a six-month period in 2016, say media reports.

A British Airways flight approaching Heathrow Airport in April reported something hitting the front of the plane. The pilots reported the incident, leading to an investigation by airport police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, and widespread media coverage about drone safety. It was later thought the ‘drone’ might have been a plastic bag.

October 20, 2016

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