Do you know anyone who owns a drone? People have been using these tiny unmanned aerial vehicles to capture spectacular pictures from otherwise impossible to reach locations for a few years now.
The combination of small, high-def cameras and drones has been a perfect pairing. Even amateur photographers are able to get some of the most spectacular images you’ve ever seen.
But are they making the skies too dangerous for air travel? Some researchers seem to think so and have shocking video to back them up.
Drone crashing into plane leaves frightening result
One of the first mid-air collisions on record between a drone and aircraft happened late last year. A large military helicopter accidentally collided with a tiny quadcopter. Luckily, the helicopter ended up with minor damage and no one was injured.
But that incident led to some tests by the University of Dayton Research Institute. The group normally performs sponsored tests of aircraft structures crashing into birds. Since drones are nearly the same weight as some birds, they thought it would be relevant to test them also.
The results are frightening.
Researchers crashed a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter into the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft at 238 MPH. (Psst! I’ve dropped a picture below of one of these planes for reference.)
The drone ended up tearing open the wing’s edge and damaging its main spar. Watch the video below to see it in action.
To be fair, the drone’s manufacturer, DJI, said that the video is unrealistic and wants it to be taken down. It said, “UDRI staged its video to create a scenario inconceivable in real life, at a higher speed than the combined maximum speed of the drone and airplane, which is also faster than U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testing guidelines.
“UDRI has not disclosed its testing methodology or the resulting data, and while it acknowledged that a similar test with a simulated bird caused ‘more apparent damage,’ it has only promoted the video showing damage from a DJI drone.”
Regardless of the drone manufacturer’s complaints about the test, this could become a real problem in the near future. At the beginning of 2018, the FAA announced that the total number of registered drones in the U.S. has eclipsed 1 million. And that number is constantly growing. It’s only a matter of time before collisions become more common.