One thousand feet above the ground a helicopter and a drone came close to a catastrophic collision that would have sent the copter and crew hurtling to the ground. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says the crew was forced to take evasive action to avoid a crash as the drone tracked towards them. As more and more drones are expected to navigate the skies, these accidents and near-misses may become more pervasive.
The helicopter’s chief pilot Michael De Winton said, “I mean, relative closing speed is pretty frightening when you’re in the helicopter, when you don’t know what you’re actually looking at and have no idea of the size. These drones and these little camera drones weigh quite a weight, and if one of those hit the helicopter we could have some serious problems.”
Indeed, De Winton admitted that it gave the crew quite a scare: “The momentum of two items at that speed will do some serious damage and could potentially bring the helicopter down as well, so you know we are very wary of things like that.”
The ATSB is investigating the incident as well as an incident involving a hot air balloon drifting into controlled airspace at Maitland.