Page 9 - InterPilot Issue 3 2016
P. 9

Drone Operations: A Rotary Wing View

By CAPTAIN TONy RIDLEy, IFALPA Helicopter Committee Chairman

PAS? UAVs? Drones? Call them what you place, all aircraft are at risk from drones that balanced) would almost certainly have
Rwant, but they are everywhere. Many are are not operated sensibly and within the law of catastrophic consequences. At this time, there
aware of the upsurge in popularity and usage the land in which they are being flown. The has not been much research done to find out
of these unmanned aerial vehicles. Every risk to fixed wing is more likely to be during the effects of a collision, but both the FAA and
television news program or documentary has the take-off or landing phases – but for rotary EASA have funding set aside for that task.
videos obtained from drones. In the recent wing - the risk is at all phases of flight due to There is also research being partly funded by
past, this work would have been carried out the nature of low level operations such as the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA)
with a dedicated film crew onboard a police and air ambulance services. A study in in conjunction with some major safety
helicopter, so it is easy to understand why 2015 by AeroKinetics of Fort Worth, Texas, stakeholders in the UK.
multi-rotor drones are now the preferred and concluded that “A head-on rotorcraft drone Aviation incidents involving drones are on
by far the cheapest option. Generally, the strike may cause catastrophic failure of the the rise worldwide, and within the rotary wing
operation of drones to gather news for films or rotorcraft’s windshield, resulting in significant community, some have directly affected the
television programs is done safely and damage to the aircraft and most likely injury to safety of human life. Medical Transport
professionally. The same goes to drones the pilot. The damage and injury ... show to be helicopters have had to abort landings at
operated by the military for security purposes. non-survivable based on the kinetic energy of accident sites, and Fire Fighting helicopters
However, this cannot always be said about the impact”. have had to cease operations due to the
drones bought and operated by the general Drones below 4kg tend to be categorized as proximity and dangerous operations of drones.
public. being ‘Low Risk’ and those at 1.5 kg and below Low level operations carry enough risks as it is,
The potential for illegal use, such as ‘Negligible Risk or Toys’. However, when and the small profile of the average multi-rotor
smuggling and even terrorism, is ever looking closely at the potential collision drone make them extremely difficult to see,
increasing. The average camera carrying Kinetic Energy (KE = 0.5MV2) involved, a even during very good visibility.
multi-rotor drone weighs in at around 1.28kg whole new outlook becomes immediately Utilizing drone weight as a method of
and requires little or no skills to operate as the evident. An often used example of KE is that of determining risk mitigation is insufficient, and
built-in electronic package makes them very the firing a 9mm Parabellum bullet, which the basic separation of distance and altitude/
simple to fly. Most countries have a set of weighing in at 9 grams at 360 metres per level restrictions set by most countries will not
regulations governing the operation of such second at V0 – (0.0045x129,600), will result in guarantee deconfliction. Under all
aerial vehicles, but sadly not all people obey a KE of 583 Joules. Therefore, if an H145 (a circumstances, the sole responsibility to see
them, and this is where the problems begin. helicopter type in worldwide general use) and avoid manned aircraft must be that of the
The majority of countries limit the operation cruising at 133 kts were to be in collision with drone operator. Some of the newer drones are
of these smaller drones to within Visual Line a 1.28kg drone, this would result in a KE strike now equipped with automatic detection and
Of Sight (VLOS) of the user and restrict the of 2996 Joules (5 x 9mm bullets). Such an avoidance equipment, which will make the
altitude to an average maximum of 400 feet, as impact on the windshield has already been helicopter pilots’ life a little safer, but this does
well as not permitting flight near people, stated, but the effect on any part of the main or not apply to the home built and hundreds of
buildings or airports/airfields without specific tail rotor assembly (both of which are of thousands of ‘legacy’ drones already out there.
permission. Even with such restrictions in complicated engineering and very finely It is thus important to keep a sharp lookout.

InterPilot | The Safety and Technical Journal of IFALPA ISSue 3 | 2016
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