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PSA: This is what happens when a drone hits the wing of an airplane


The University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) has published a video showing the damage caused by a consumer drone when it strikes the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The test simulated life-like conditions, the end result mimicking the collision of a quadcopter with the wing of an aircraft at 383km/h (238mph).

Despite weighing only 952g (2.1lbs), the drone tore a large hole in the wing, ultimately causing damage to its main spar. UDRI’s group leader for impact physics Kevin Poormon said in a university release that the drone caused “significant damage” to the structure. Both the video and test results were recently presented at the Unmanned Systems Academic Summit.

The test follows decades of bird-strike research involving aircraft, the data necessary in a world where consumer drone numbers have skyrocketed. Talking about the topic, Poormon explained:

Drones are similar in weight to some birds, and so we’ve watched with growing concern as reports of near collisions have increased, and even more so after the collision last year between an Army Blackhawk helicopter and a hobby drone that the operator flew beyond his line of site.

Earlier this year, a video surfaced of a drone pilot operating their UAV directly above a passenger jet as it left McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Similar reports of reckless activity have surfaced in recent months, such as an investigation into a possibly drone-related helicopter crash earlier this year and a drone-plane collision in Canada late last year.



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