Late September’s incident involving a DJI Phantom UAS and an Army Black Hawk helicopter highlight’s the ever-growing need for enhanced safety around unmanned aircraft in the national airspace. This incident isn’t isolated, unfortunately, and is just one of the latest in a growing list.
According to NTSB’s Report, there were a number of oversights on the part of the drone pilot which contributed to this incident, but one of the most obvious is the distance beyond “Line of Sight” that the aircraft traveled.
We took the opportunity to model this incident with Systems Tool Kit (STK) to gain a better understanding of the entire simulated event. First, a line of sight distance was simulated at roughly 800 meters. While maintaining visual custody of the aircraft may be done beyond this distance, the ability to understand the drone’s surroundings and have an appropriate level of situational awareness would have likely been compromised at much farther distances. Both the drone and the helicopter’s flight paths were modeled to show the event. According to the report, the drone was initiating a ‘Return To Home’ which put the drone within a direct path of approaching military aircraft.
You can see even from this simplified simulation that the need for enhanced safety of flight and situational awareness is at the forefront of this event. As manned and unmanned aircraft begin sharing airspace, there is an ever-increasing need for flight planning safety as well as realtime operational pictures to help pilots avoid these types of collisions. Read more about how OneSky is developing safety of flight services for commercial unmanned aircraft as well as our involvement in Unmanned Traffic Management solutions.
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