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Realistic threat from Drones

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Realistic threat from Drones

Old 3rd Jan 2019, 21:51
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Realistic threat from Drones

I wonder just how realistic the threat is to aviation from drones really is.
Sure, the panic-stricken and incompetent hysteria we saw last month tells us lots about the percieved threat and the ineptitude of the authorities but nothing about the real hazard.

Just how much damage can a drone really do to an airliner if you were a perp and wanted to try?

I suspect you'd be pretty disappointed.

A 2-3 Kg drone is about a big as big s hey get afaik and thus are reasonably in line with birdstrike standards, are they not? OK a goose is soft and a drone has harder bits but is that really a major difference?

What damage is a drone going to do to an airlliner that could threaten it? It would take massive luck and skilful piolting to drive one into an engine or a wiondscreen at all, even that is pretty difficult to achieve at low speed right on the runway, but engines are designed to take geese and unless you take out both simultaneously on t/o just what is the real hazard?
Even a drone loaded with a KG or two of explosives is unlikely to guarantee much damage - military missiles routinely require a vastly greater kinetic hit plus a much bigger warhead.

The propaganda effect may well be massive if we stupidly allow the scrotes the oxygen of publicity but just how serious in reality is the threat to life and limb in aviation?

So what, exactly, are we panicking about?
meleagertoo is offline  
Old 3rd Jan 2019, 23:45
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All this hysteria over drones and yet I can only find one bit of footage of a phantom hitting a mooney wing. Its either a serious threat or it isnt. Why arent there hours of high speed footage of Mavics hitting airliner wings and windscreens? Anyone else still feel that a flock of birds at night is more of a threat that jonny with his drone?
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 23:56
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As I don't specifically worry a great deal about the tens of millions of birds that exist, I'm not prone to adding drones to the list.
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Old 4th Jan 2019, 06:28
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I guess it the drone is carrying something with a little bit more "pop" than a camera. Then it would certainly be an issue !
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Old 4th Jan 2019, 08:03
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My thinking here was always I'd expect a drone to be fairly frangible.
I’m not at all sure about that. If you haven’t had the chance pick up (literally) the battery out of a small domestic drone such as your small common or garden DJI Mavic Pro...it is a pretty dense solid block and I wouldn’t bet on that turning to liquid or “exploding” into harmless bits on impact. I wouldn’t want try an impact test by throwing such a battery against my car windscreen or car body work. ...and I certainly wouldn’t want to throw one down the front end of a fan engine running at highish RPM.


Last edited by wiggy; 4th Jan 2019 at 16:45. Reason: “all” added
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Old 4th Jan 2019, 08:42
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Perhaps this might offer an insight into the comparative damage risk between drones and birds...

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Old 4th Jan 2019, 09:41
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Originally Posted by MacBoero View Post
Perhaps this might offer an insight into the comparative damage risk between drones and birds...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH0V7kp-xg0
Nope - that was the one bit of video that I could find and it is a drone fired at 238 mph into a mooney wing. The result of that research was that it wouldn't bring down a mooney. My point was that I have seen no research at all for an airliner. Nothing hitting an airliner wing, nothing going through a jet engine, nothing hitting a windscreen. If the aircraft manufacturers think that drones present a significantly greater risk than bird they are acting in an entirely reckless way by not backing that up with research. If the various aviation authorities around the world believe that a drone could bring down an airliner and are prepared to shut a major international airport for 30 hours without any apparent significant research to back that up I am amazed!

Has anyone fired a drone through a jet engine? Can anyone post a link? Is there any evidence based research around at all that doesn't rely on a thirty year old light aircraft?
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Old 4th Jan 2019, 16:36
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Originally Posted by GlenQuagmire View Post
Nope - that was the one bit of video that I could find and it is a drone fired at 238 mph into a mooney wing. The result of that research was that it wouldn't bring down a mooney. My point was that I have seen no research at all for an airliner. Nothing hitting an airliner wing, nothing going through a jet engine, nothing hitting a windscreen. If the aircraft manufacturers think that drones present a significantly greater risk than bird they are acting in an entirely reckless way by not backing that up with research. If the various aviation authorities around the world believe that a drone could bring down an airliner and are prepared to shut a major international airport for 30 hours without any apparent significant research to back that up I am amazed!

Has anyone fired a drone through a jet engine? Can anyone post a link? Is there any evidence based research around at all that doesn't rely on a thirty year old light aircraft?
It seems the research has been done - on a shoe-string and with results that will NOT set your mind at rest.
ASSURE simulations show sUAS collisions inflict more physical damage than that of an equivalent size and speed bird-strike. sUAS components are much stiffer than birds, which are mostly composed of water. Therefore, bird-strike certification regulations are not appropriate for unmanned aircraft. Additionally, regulators do not require and manufacturers do not design commercial and business aircraft to withstand collisions from other aircraft.
Press release: ASSURE Research sUAS vs Commercial Aircraft
Actual Research Report: ASSURE UAS Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report

My concern is that the choice of sUAS made the research very one-dimensional. It would have been better to use examples from the highest weight sUAS down to the smaller 'toy' quadcopters. I would also have expected examples of an Amazon package delivery sUAS complete with largest sizes of package carrying various levels of frangibility package content. It seems that the choices made are more to assuage concern than to formally research the boundary conditions. I would also expect some level of insurance requirements linked to the hazard presented by the UAS and its payload.
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Old 4th Jan 2019, 16:56
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Why is it relevant whether it brings down an airliner or not?

If a drone goes through an engine, that may be catastrophic, or it may just cause damage. Why is it acceptable that commercial aircraft, or GA, receive damage because someone wants to upload more footage of their drone flight to YouTube? Why should easyJet, for instance, have to pick up the tab for engine damage after ingesting a drone?

Also, the comparison to wildlife is hard to justify. One is a wild animal, whereas drones are piloted by humans who should be capable of understanding that driving your drone all over an airport, or at altitudes, to promote your awesome YouTube channel is a selfish act. There's a YouTube video of a drone at altitude where the poster claims they checked Flightradar24 before the attempt. That about sums up the idiocy.

Let's not pretend that the threat is coming from commercial drone operators. It's the types of numpties who force you to sit through their un-edited honeymoon photos (you know who you are folks) who are now trying to justify access to restricted airspace for personal vanity.
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Old 6th Jan 2019, 00:07
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The threat is minimal. Also, the threat that exists is not being mitigated effectively by the authorities. The drones are being flown on 2.4 with video feeds and gps information being sent between the controller and the drone itself. It is not all that difficult to intercept those streams and then you know where the drone and the controller are. Adequate laws already exist to punish people who break the law. If you run an airport and dont take precautionary steps to prevent an incursion by a drone the you are incompetent.

Drones are not allowed to fly above 400 feet so if someone decides to do that and endanger an aircraft, apply the appropriate punishment. I own a drone to carry out 3D photogrammetry and do solid modelling of objects - why should I be prevented from doing this by the aviatio industry? I am also a training captain and my job revolves around the ability to assess risk. I assess the risk of drones to be vanishingly small. I would very much like the industry to do some proper research instead of bleating on in the press with scaremongering rubbish based on nothing.
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Old 6th Jan 2019, 00:27
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I agree the chance of a drone bringing down an airliner is very small, not zero but very very small, The chance of a drone causing serious damage because the dense and heavy battery went through an engine or windshield is also low but very definitely not zero. If it does happen then there will be a shyte storm of epic proportions, yes still high consequence but low probability and it will mean some airplane got very unlucky.

The more interesting question is when will airports treat drones like birds. Airports don't shut down operations when somebody reports seeing a bird, so IMO the Gatwick fiasco was the tipping point. I think the airports must now be doing the risk reward calculation which is has got to tend toward continuing operations after a drone report with some sort of advisory caution given to pilots.

Personally I am more afraid of L asers than drones.
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Old 6th Jan 2019, 02:09
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They already have that protocol. Gatwick had a drone fly into the airfield perimeter in 2017 (july sometime) and it shut the airfield for 10 minutes and again for about 5 minutes. I have no idea why it changed to shutting the airfield for 30 hours this time.
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Old 6th Jan 2019, 02:26
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Originally Posted by GlenQuagmire View Post
I own a drone to carry out 3D photogrammetry and do solid modelling of objects - why should I be prevented from doing this by the aviatio industry?.
I don't understand; I thought the aviation industry just wanted to keep drones away from a few defined airspaces where they represent a small but real risk of damaging aircraft?
I haven't seen any serious suggestion that they be banned, which would be like, totally against your rights as an individual. Isn't it though?
Harsh.
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Old 6th Jan 2019, 02:46
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Originally Posted by HPSOV L View Post
I don't understand; I thought the aviation industry just wanted to keep drones away from a few defined airspaces where they represent a small but real risk of damaging aircraft?
I haven't seen any serious suggestion that they be banned, which would be like, totally against your rights as an individual. Isn't it though?
Harsh.
The problem is not unlike that of firearms. The vast majority of owners use them responsibly and within the law. For many people they are not simply recreational - they serve a highly useful (and legal) purpose. But there is very small minority of owners that use them irresponsibly - and in the process creating a great threat to public health. Because it's so difficult to keep them out of the hands of the irresponsible so long as they are readily available, the urge is either highly restrict ownership (making it both difficult and expense) or simply ban the product outright.
In the US, it's already been proposed that in order to purchase a drone, you need to be FAA licensed - which would invariably get extended to all radio control aircraft.
Obviously the people who currently operate RC aircraft are less than thrilled at the prospect.
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Old 6th Jan 2019, 03:29
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Well put tdracer.
And extending the gun analogy - the rise of the technology has unexpectedly created a new potential threat that authorities responsible for airport approaches and departures simply have to address: what could be done with one with malicious intent?
However unlikely it may seem, a drone on the approach path might not just be a wayward toy. These things can carry a payload and be geopositioned autonomously...
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