In what may be the first drone-related crash in the United States, a helicopter pilot and his student were forced to crash land after the tail of their chopper struck a tree while performing evasive maneuvers to avoid an encroaching drone aircraft.
The pilot of the Robinson R22 aircraft spotted a drone approaching their aircraft and took over controls from the student, leading to a series of unfortunate events that are now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
In a response to the report by Bloomberg, NTSB representative Chris O’Neill said, “The NTSB is aware of the pilot’s report that he was maneuvering to avoid a drone, but the NTSB has not yet been able to independently verify that information.”
A Federal Aviation Administration statement confirmed that the helicopter crash landed but did not confirm a drone’s involvement. Using the pilot and student’s account, the purported drone seems to be a DJI Phantom as it was described as a small white drone. DJI for its part is cooperating with whatever authorities may be involved in the investigation.
This latest incident represents a growing trend with drones of late. We have reported on multiple instances here, typically involving drones in protected airspaces.
Governments for their part are looking toward implementing laws and registration processes to properly train and catalog drone owners and operators. It is hoped that regulation and education will curtail the incidents of drones appearing in protected airspaces and potentially causing catastrophic disasters in the process.
While drones have revolutionized everything from photography to potential transportation options, it goes without saying that the largely unregulated segment is ripe for abuse by people with bad intent, not to mention those who merely complicate matters out of negligence.
You can be certain this will not be the last drone-related incident.