A drone is suspected to have collided with a training aircraft. The possible drone incident took place earlier this week shortly after the airplane took off at Rand Airport in Gauteng.
Drone suspected of colliding with aircraft in South Africa
The pilot of the aircraft, who heard a loud bang shortly after taking off from the airport, was able to land safely as a precaution.
In a statement on Friday, the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa said that the incident had occurred on Tuesday. The SA Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) has started an investigation into the drone incident.
“A drone is suspected to have struck an airborne training aircraft at Rand Airport on October 27. A precautionary landing was made after the pilot heard a loud bang shortly after takeoff,” Sacaa said.
The Times Live reported that the drone association said comment would only be made when the investigation is concluded.
“Sacaa’s accident and incident investigations division is expected to communicate officially after confirmed accident report submission.”
Eventhough the FAA receives thousands of reports about drones flying too close to airplanes, there have only been very few drone incidents or accidents. Often times there is no evidence that the object that was seen was indeed a drone. Plastic bags, balloons, and birds have been mistaken for drones in the past.
Some of the most alarming near-misses have been:
- Drone and helicopter over the beach near Hollywood, FL
- Drone and helicopter near Niagara Falls, NY
- Drone and Blue Angels during a show in Detroit, IL
- DJI Inspire and a police helicopter in Tulsa, OK
- DJI Phantom drone and a small airplane
Some actual mid-air collisions between manned and unmanned aircraft have been:
- Blackhawk helicopter and DJI Phantom drone near Staten Island, NY
- Canadian police drone and a police helicopter
- News helicopter and drone over LA (suspected collision)
As a side note: more and more airplanes and helicopters come equipped with ADS-B Out. When a manned aircraft activates ADS-B Out drones that can receive that signal and warn the drone operator of the approaching manned aircraft. The only drone that currently has that capability is the DJI Mavic Air 2 as it comes with ADS-B In. Any future DJI drone weighing more than 250 grams will include ADS-B In. I have not yet heard of any other drone manufacturer including this capability in their drones.
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Image: ADREES LATIF/REUTERS