An expensive DJI M300 inspection drone from the Dutch company Zero Gravity Drone was shot at with an air rifle by an angry vacationer last week. The drone was damaged and can no longer be used for the time being. The company has since filed a report of vandalism. Business owner Boris Guntenaar mentions social acceptance as the biggest challenge for the drone sector.
Right in your own hands
The incident took place during a drone inspection of vital infrastructure. The flight went as planned, and the unmanned aircraft, a professional drone of the DJI M300 type, also landed without any problems. Shortly after landing, the team was approached by a man who stated that he had fired on the aircraft several times before. The aircraft turned out to have been hit so that further inspections had to be canceled, and the drone cannot be used for the time being.
The man stated that he was in a holiday home 200 meters from the take-off location. He didn't like the sound of the drone flying over and decided to shoot the aircraft, not realizing the possible consequences of a direct hit. The team at Zero Gravity Drone decided to call the Police, after which a report was filed for vandalism. The Dutch Aviation Incident Analysis Bureau (ABL) has also been informed.
How to prevent the DJI M300 inspection drone getting shot at?
Director Boris Guntenaar wonders on LinkedIn what the team could have done differently to prevent this incident.
“In the area where we operated (of course fully within the current regulations), we always rang the doorbell when we flew in the vicinity of homes, informed what the flights were for, and then started our work without any problems. to do. How can we prevent this in the future? It sometimes seems practically impossible. The drone world is new. People find new things scary and resist.”
The shooting of the DJI M300 could have ended very differently, Guntenaar realizes:
“This drone weighing almost 7 kg could have been shot out of the air and then crashed in a (gritted) forest area. People who work with LiPo batteries know that they can generate hefty flash fires with any kind of penetration. Not to mention the economic damage suffered.”
Social acceptance of drones
According to Guntenaar, the lack of social acceptance is a major problem for the drone sector. He therefore calls for action:
“What we particularly worry about is the fact that we use drone techniques to make work safer and more efficient. We prevent polluting aerial platforms from driving around, inspectors having to work in risky locations, and in certain cases, an inspection does not have to take a day but only an hour. That is why we cannot reconcile the social resistance to our field.”
Guntenaar and co-founder's blog post on LinkedIn has led to quite a few reactions. For example, several drone operators indicate that they have also had to deal with angry bystanders. Other LinkedIn users say they understand the frustration some people experience when a drone flies over. One would also ‘unceremoniously' shoot down a drone flying over its territory.
Martijn Arkesteijn of the DCRO industry association:
“As DCRO, we find these kinds of developments very disturbing. Unfortunately, we notice that these excesses occur more often. Good information about the professional use of drones is crucial, and the professional sector should also do everything in its power to profile itself as well as possible. This also makes it possible to have a normal conversation with each other. We disapprove of playing in front of our own judge at all times.”
Other shooting incidents
Unfortunately, this shooting incident in The Netherlands is not an isolated incident. Earlier this year, a drone pilot was injured in his arm in Tholen when he was shot at with an air rifle. In Belgium, a drone belonging to a photojournalist was shot at in 2019. And at least one other Dutch inspection company has experienced their drone being shot at during a flight.
Photos courtesy of Zero Gravity Drone.
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