Are Drones A Risk In The Sky?

21 December 2018, 17:51 | Updated: 21 December 2018, 18:42

This video shows why it is important to regulate drones near airports and to be cautious upon sighting a drone in proximity of an airport runway, amid today's runway closures at Gatwick.

As Gatwick's operations has been suspended multiple times and many flights postponed or cancelled over a 48-hour period, due to drone sightings, many may be wondering whether drones are a genuine risk in the sky.

This video reveals exactly why Gatwick operators have closed the airport runways.

In a test designed to mimic a mid-air collision of a drone and a commercial transport aircraft at 238 miles per hour, researchers in the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) Impact Physics group launched a 2-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter (a drone model) at the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft.

The drone did not shatter on impact, but tore open the leading edge of the wing as it bore into the structure, damaging its main spar.

Drone Plane Wing
Picture: University of Dayton Research Institute

“While the quadcopter broke apart, its energy and mass hung together to create significant damage to the wing,” said Kevin Poormon, group leader for impact physics at UDRI.

The test was intended to compare a bird strike and a drone strike, using a drone similar in weight to many hobby drones and a wing selected to represent a leading edge structure of a commercial transport aircraft.

"As the number of hobby drones in the air dramatically increases, so does the risk of a catastrophic event", Kevin Poorman said.

The University of Dayton Research Institute have highlighted that while drones are not inherently dangerous, they must be piloted with caution.