Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that it has opened an investigation regarding a collision between an Army helicopter and a civilian drone. From the photos, it looks like the helicopter was a little scraped up, but the drone certainly did not make it.
The accident happened September 21st near Staten Island, New York, when the helicopter collided with the unmanned aerial vehicle in mid-air. Along with the scrapes on the main rotor blade, the helicopter was also damaged on the window frame and transmission deck.
The drone that hit the UH-60 helicopter was a Phantom 4 from Chinese company DJI. DJI, which, according to its website, has North American operations based out of Los Angeles, will help the NTSB with the investigation.
The NTSB identified the drone's operator, who offered up flight data logs to shed a little more light on the incident. The reason that the NTSB is even investigating the crash is because the drone is a civilian aircraft. The FAA is assisting as well, and the Army is also conducting a "mishap investigation."
According to Bloomberg, the accident is the first confirmed mid-air collision between a drone and a manned aircraft. Millions of drones have been sold to the U.S. market, and the FAA has more than 1,000 reports of drone safety incidents, including flying too close to jetliners. In March, a drone was within 200 feet of hitting a plane near Los Angeles International Airport.
DJI's founder and CEO Frank Wang calls the Phantom 4 the "sexiest drone that DJI ever designed." Now, if we could just find out how to keep this sexy drone, and all others, from crashing into other aircraft, we just might be on to something.