On October 12, 2017 a drone hit a commercial aircraft, Skyjet flight number SJ512. This marks the first incident of a drone colliding with a commercial aircraft in Canada. The aircraft was a Beechcraft King Air 100 twin turboprop with six passengers and two crew members on final approach to the Quebec City airport in Canada. Fortunately no injuries have been reported. As the investigation continues, OneSky has obtained track data from Flightradar24 to perform analysis. The information available on the event is sparse, but with a good track, some basic information and OneSky technology we are able to recreate the scenario and provide some insight into the event.
We first load the Flightradar24 data into the simulation and analysis environment. From this we gain a general understanding of the timing and positional information of the event.
Next we look at the reported information of the event. Reports place the collision at an altitude of 1500 ft. The altitude in the Flightradar24 data is referenced to above mean sea level (AMSL). Positioning the aircraft at this point we can analyze the time of the event to be approximately 22:04 GMT. The first thing we note is this time compared to sunset since Canadian law prohibits flying a drone after sunset. We are able to model the suns position relative to the aircraft. Interestingly this places the time of the event at sunset itself which was at 22:04 GMT.
Next we analyze the distance to the center of the airport. Canadian law specifies a keep-away distance of 9 km to all airports. In this case we note the incident occurred outside of this 9 km area (this is dependent on the location chosen for the center of the airport).
Next we place a point on the ground directly under the aircraft at this time to gain some insight into the operating position from the drone presuming this is a line of sight (LOS) flight. Canadian law mandates an altitude restriction of 300 ft. An important aspect of this analysis is the altitude flown from above ground level (AGL) level vs. MSL. Recreational drones report their altitude relative to their take off operator position. In this case the altitude at the projected ground position is 301.244 ft. above sea level. The altitude from the point on the ground to the aircraft is 1198.845 ft. from the notional operator’s position; well above the 300 ft. dome represented in the below graphic. We also note the large field below the aircraft perhaps suitable for recreational drone flying.
In summary, given the Flightradar24 data and sparse information available on the event, we are able to conduct some level of forensic analysis employing OneSky analysis software. More than general situational awareness (SA), we gain an understanding of the incident through analysis about time, relative geometry, position and terrain.