UPDATE: DJI has contacted us regarding a letter it has sent to the University of Dayton’s Research Institute, demanding that their video of a DJI drone and plane collision (seen below) be taken down. DJI’s statement reads, in part, that “UDRI staged its video to create a scenario inconceivable in real life, at a higher speed than the combined maximum speed of the drone and airplane, which is also faster than U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testing guidelines.” Read DJI’s full response to UDRI here.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: It makes a lot of sense to have laws surrounding the use of drones in South Africa but just in case you’re having trouble visualising some of the concerns around piloting small multi-rotor objects at high speed, this short clip from the University of Dayton’s Research Institute (UDRI) shows why you should avoid flying drones near airports. Or anywhere else there’s a speeding object in mid-air.
The video below shows a DJI Phantom 2 being launched at a Mooney M20 aircraft’s wing, a simulation of a 384km/h impact — the sort you might see in a mid-air collision between a drone and a plane. The initial impact is actually too quick to see — there’s just a wing and then a gaping hole. Slow down the footage, though, and it shows that the Phantom 2 disappears inside the wing as it is destroyed (well, duh).
The UDRI also did a test with a gel ‘bird’ (because firing real birds at airplanes at 400km/h is just mean) that showed that “[t]he bird did more apparent damage to the leading edge of the wing, but the Phantom penetrated deeper into the wing and damaged the main spar, which the bird did not do.” This illustrates that while bird strikes remain a hazard to planes, we probably shouldn’t be flying drones in the vicinity of planes just because our feathered friends don’t know any better.
South Africa’s drone rules prohibit using a drone within 10km of an airport or helipad, or near aircraft in flight, and you’re not allowed to operate a drone heavier than 7kg. The Phantom 2 weighs in at less that 1kg, which is still less than some birds but drones have one large advantage over flying critters. They actually land when instructed to do so and should know better than to travel through occupied airspace. Our avian friends aren’t nearly as considerate.
Source: University of Dayton