Aircraft

Want To See What Happens When A Drone Hits An Aircraft Mid-Flight?

More people are buying and flying drones around the UK but what does that mean for military aircraft safety?

The Royal Navy has produced a video to educate people who fly drones - so those who fly them can understand the devastating impact the airborne devices could have on military aircraft flying in the skies above the UK.

Commercial drones are becoming cheaper and more readily available online and this has seen a significant increase in the number of drone near misses occurring with military aircraft in UK airspace.

A near miss or ‘airprox’ is a situation in which, in the opinion of the pilot or the air traffic control tower, that the distance between an aircraft as well as its relative positions and speed of a drone has been, such that the safety of the aircraft involved may have been compromised.

Figures obtained from the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) show that there has been a 220% increase in reported drone near miss incidents involving commercial and military aircraft around UK airfields.

During 2015 there were 40 reported drone related incidents involving aircraft and for 2018 the figure had risen to 128 incidents.

Video captured from inside a cockpit of an aircraft gives you a ‘pilot’s eye view’ of a drone in flight and shows how difficult they are to see for a pilot.

It also shows a test which was carried out by the University of Dayton Research Institute and was designed to mimic a mid air collision at 238 miles per hour.

This experiment saw the leading edge of the wing tore open when the drone made impact - this could have easily ripped off the wing in another scenario.

Drone impact to aircraft wing
Pic: Drone impact to aircraft wing

The flight safety team at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose, an airbase in Cornwall, made the video to remind drone pilots to never fly near airports or airfields, to fly drones below 400 feet, always observe the flight path of a drone, and to never fly near an aircraft, building or people.

There is real concern for the safety of all military aircraft taking off or landing at air bases across the country. Because for little over £500 you can buy a drone that has an operating altitude of 19,685 feet (6,000 metres).

It is already a criminal offence in the UK to endanger any aircraft by flying drones too close to aircraft, and can see you sentenced up to five years in prison.