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Old 13th Jul 2017, 12:34   #1 (permalink)
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Fellow Rotorheads, a serious question re drones.

Dear all,
As a long time PPRuNer and fellow Rotorhead, I am hoping i can get some sensible responses on this Forum.

As an ATPL holder, full time pilot and also a licensed Drone Operator, I am finding it increasingly difficult to argue my point with people regarding the safe use of drones (UAV).

When trying to explain that UAV, when operated legally and within the 'Drone Code' boundaries, or within the bounds of my 'Ops Manual' they remain a safe and efficient tool for us commercial operators. i.e. I can map 130 acres in about 20 minutes and produce hi-res images and accurate volumetric and area data whilst 'in the field'. For me to do this requires the following:-
A Drone
Public Liability Insurance
A UK CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO)
The Permission requires I have an up to date ops manual, an annual renewal of said permission, and carry out full risk assessments including, but not limited to checking Weather, Airspace, Notams, etc etc.

Anyway, I have been asked on a number of occasions what happens if I hit an aircraft with my drone, or have I had any close calls with drones whilst flying a helicopter? (especially in the centre of London)

My answer is I haven't even seen a drone whilst in flight so far.

So, for me to put together some general information and for further Safety Management use, can I please ask you the following questions?

1. Do you know of anyone who has had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter?
2. Have you ever had a near miss with a drone?
3. Have you ever collided with a drone?
4. Have you ever seen a drone whilst flying a helicopter
5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird?
6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade etc?

I don't really need specifics but if you care to add that detail that would be useful too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

My answers:-
1. no
2. no
3. no
4. no
5. yes
6. yes

Last edited by helimutt; 13th Jul 2017 at 13:36.
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 13:05   #2 (permalink)
 
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What's the difference between Q1 & Q2?

1&2 - yes. Twice so far. One on the London Heliroute approaching Isle of Dogs from the West at 1400 ft; one N of Gatwick, heading W into EGKR at 1300ft.

Never hit a drone. Yet.

The answer to 4 - both the above. Also I was asked by ATC, when over London on H7, whether I could see something as they had a primary radar return. I saw a drone a couple of hundred feet above, so it must have been large (not a cheap toy, though clearly not a professional operator)

Had a bird come close once on climb-out. I'd guess 100ft before it turned to avoid me.

Never hit a bird. Yet.
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 13:19   #3 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
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1. Have you had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter?
Yes, while landing off field

5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird?
Yes

6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade. Yes, a small one fortunately. No damage, just the sound of it's head passing through it's backside.
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 13:36   #4 (permalink)
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edited 1 thanks
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 14:28   #5 (permalink)
 
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No to 1-4.

Yes to 5 & 6.

However, I'm not sure what you can prove with these statistics. Been flying for 28 years, which is a lot longer than drones have been in general circulation - and so the chances of having had a bird strike rather than a drone strike were always going to be much, much higher.
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 14:29   #6 (permalink)
 
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helimutt.

1 & 2 - Yes, Me, inside controlled airspace close to a heliport. An MOR was filed.

3 - no

4 - Yes. The event above plus two other occasions which I did not consider to be a significant risk or a violation.

5 - Yes - more times than I can recall

6 - Yes - At least 5, none of which caused damage to the helicopter.

OH
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 14:32   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. I'm not looking for statistics as has been mentioned, the data doesn't have enough significant time, but it's just more to compare what the reality is, with peoples perceptions.
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 14:40   #8 (permalink)

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1-4 No.
5 & 6 Yes.

NEO
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 14:45   #9 (permalink)
 
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Birds are not a new phenomenon and have been flying around the skies for quite some time. They are also able to see and avoid helicopters which they usually do.

UAV use has grown at an enormous rate in the past 12 months alone. Not all are operated by responsible individuals. I fly SAR and they are becoming an added distraction in the low-level environment. An average day in London will have 20+ drones flying at up to 600'.

One was recently spotted at night operating near our airfield by the crews using NVG. It is only a matter of time before irresponsible use causes an accident. Was not Gatwick closed last week due to a near miss?
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 15:11   #10 (permalink)
 
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1. Yes
2. No
3. No
4. No
5. Yes
6. Yes.

Drones hitting aircraft are not the same as birds hitting aircraft. Drones contain hard bits like batteries and motors whereas a bird, although perhaps heavier is more like a bag of fluid. DfT have co-sponsored a report into this but it hasn't been issued yet although contrary to the article at the link it does include a commercial airliner.
https://www.theverge.com/2016/10/18/...est-uk-dangers

See the UKAB recent bulletin if you want to compile stats on drone airproxes:
https://www.airproxboard.org.uk/uplo...rt%20Sheet.pdf
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 16:49   #11 (permalink)
 
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1-4 no,
5 & 6 yes - including a night birdstrike which was interesting!
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Old 13th Jul 2017, 18:43   #12 (permalink)
 
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1. Do you know of anyone who has had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter? - Yes
2. Have you ever had a near miss with a drone? - as 1 yes
3. Have you ever collided with a drone? - not yet
4. Have you ever seen a drone whilst flying a helicopter - more than once
5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird? - yes
6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade etc? - a couple of times, from sea gul over swift to hedge sparrow (they travel around 1.000 feet at night)
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 04:06   #13 (permalink)


Probationary PPRuNer
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Adelaide
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1. Do you know of anyone who has had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter? No.
2. Have you ever had a near miss with a drone? No.
3. Have you ever collided with a drone? No.
4. Have you ever seen a drone whilst flying a helicopter. Yes.
5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird? Yes.
6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade etc? Yes.


As for drones, from a helicopter during the day, they are almost invisible. You often wont see them until its too late. Ive had operations where ground crew have alerted us to drones present and even with all the crew searching, its taken significant time to spot the drone - especially looking down upon them with a complex background behind them.

Ultimately, no drone operator wants their drone near a helicopter. But are you willing to bet everything on what some unknown person is going to do?
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 04:43   #14 (permalink)
 
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1) Yes - Me
2) Yes - in the airport traffic pattern. It was supposed to be taking pictures of new construction half a mile away.
3) No
4) No
5) Yes
6) Yes - multiple times. As an ag pilot it goes with the territory.
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 06:40   #15 (permalink)
 
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1 - Yes. My company has recorded more than 20 drones operating where they shouldn't (by local regulation) in the last 2 years or so. 2 of those occasions have required maneuvering to avoid collision and another instance led to an aircraft exceedence while the crew were searching for a reported drone shortly after takeoff.

2 - Personally no - but see above.

3 - No.

4 - Yes.

5 - Yes.

6 - No.

Over the same 2 years quoted in 1, there have been less bird avoidances required than drones... Birds have a self preservation instinct. I imagine drone operators lack spatial awareness around their drone (if they can see their drone at all) and presumably think getting close to other aircraft is good footage.

BG
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 08:07   #16 (permalink)
 
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There was a deadly Drone Strike on Germany:

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=58711
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 12:29   #17 (permalink)
 
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1. Do you know of anyone who has had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter? - Yes
2. Have you ever had a near miss with a drone? - Not yet
3. Have you ever collided with a drone? - Not yet
4. Have you ever seen a drone whilst flying a helicopter - Yes
5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird? - Yes
6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade etc? - Yes a couple of times
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 16:31   #18 (permalink)
 
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1. Do you know of anyone who has had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter? YES
2. Have you ever had a near miss with a drone? YES
3. Have you ever collided with a drone? NO
4. Have you ever seen a drone whilst flying a helicopter YES
5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird? YES
6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade etc? YES
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 16:34   #19 (permalink)
 
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Hey helimutt....please open Your eyes Mate, Drone near misses are on the rise....BIG TIME. Wont be long before there is a serious collision

just recently in Ozz
https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/36329029...y-beach/#page1

in response to Your questions:

1. Do you know of anyone who has had a close call with a drone whilst flying a helicopter? Yes; 2 x Rotory Pilots & 2 x Fixed-Wing Pilots.
2. Have you ever had a near miss with a drone? Yes; 1, where I had to take immediate evasive action to avoid a collision.
3. Have you ever collided with a drone? No; not yet thank God.
4. Have you ever seen a drone whilst flying a helicopter Yes; 2.
5. Have you ever had a near miss with a bird? Yes; countless times but what has that got to do with Drones?? Birds naturally are flying creatures that belong in the Sky & understand nothing about Air rules, Safety nor Airmanship. So what is Your point exactly?
6. Have you ever had a bird-strike anywhere on a helicopter, even if just a blade etc? Yes; 4 in 28years thus far, again what is Your point in relation to Drones?

Please explain why are You comparing Drones to Birds???
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Old 14th Jul 2017, 16:58   #20 (permalink)
 
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1. Yes, several pilots i know, Including one last month that had a drone fly within 10 ft of his external load while he was in a hover trying to set it.

2. no

3. No

4. yes

5. Yes

6. Cleaned one off the rotor blades once. Never even felt it.

Check this out
https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/36329029...y-beach/#page1
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