University of Dayton researchers test damage caused when drones collide with airplanes

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – There’s a new warning out about the risk that the growing number of unmanned drones is getting way too close to planes.

Researchers at the University of Dayton found significant damage when they fired a small drone into a plane’s wing to show what could happen in a mid-air collision.

The two-pound drone was test-fired into a single-engine aircraft wing to mimic a mid-air collision at 238 miles per hour, tearing deep into the wing, fuel lines, and support structure, it likely would have landed safely.

However, Kevin Poormon at the University of Dayton research institute says, “If you have a significantly heavier drone, absolutely there is the threat of an aircraft being lost.”

So far this year, pilots have reported 2,000 drone sightings.

Nationwide, 109,000 registered users own more than a million registered drones that are required to stay below 400 feet and five miles away from airports, but Embry-Riddle researchers recently documented 192 drone flights near Daytona Beach Airport in just a 13 day period.

One in five posed a risk to aircrafts.

The most vulnerable areas being wings, engines, vertical stabilizers, helicopter rotors, and windshields.

“A drone hitting an aircraft of any size is potentially a life or death situation,” says Greg Feith, former NTSB Sr. Investigator.

One resolution is GPS-based geo-fencing software to keep drones away from restricted airspace, as the risk of collision grows day by day.

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