The collision between the RCMP drone and helicopter, we reported on recently was caused by the drone flying at the wrong altitude. The FLIR SkyRanger R60 surveillance drone was operated measuring its altitude in meters instead of feet when it collided with the RCMP Air Services AS350 B3 helicopter on February 6th.
RCMP drone flew at wrong altitude when it collided with helicopter
The RCMP drone flew at 355 feet or 108 meters above ground level (AGL) when the collision took place. The helicopter was flying below 500 feet AGL.
The RCMP said that using the metric system to measure the drone’s altitude “was a contributing factor to the incident,” according to Vertical.
The RCMP drone and helicopter were on a joint mission policing activities during the Wet’suwet’en protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The mid-air collision took place southwest of Houston, B.C. in Canada.
The collision did not show up in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS) until June 3.
The drone was obliterated as a result of the collision while the helicopter did incur damage to its rotor nd tail section it was able to land safely and all three crew members were uninjured.
“Maintenance staff found damage primarily to the [helicopter’s] main rotor blades along with superficial damage on the tail boom and tail rotor,” the CADORS report states. “The affected components were removed as per the maintenance manual for repairs or overhaul as required. The RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft system, or drone] was destroyed.”
The RCMP has confirmed in an email to Vertical that the damaged helicopter has been airlifted by a Super Puma helicopter. The cost of the operation was more than $83,000 CAD. The AS350 helicopter is out of commission for repairs.
To prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future, the RCMP stated that “updated pre-flight checklists have been provided to RCMP RPAS pilots to confirm altitude display settings on their systems. Updated guidance was provided directing that RCMP RPAS will not be in the air at the same time as an RCMP aircraft.”
In those cases were both manned and unmanned aircraft are needed, the drones will stay below 300 feet AGL and the manned aircraft will remain above 500 feet AGL, the RCMP said.
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