LA News Helicopter Likely Struck By Drone


A news helicopter operated by KABC-TV in Los Angeles, California, was struck by an object believed to be a drone at approximately 7:15 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350 B2, made a precautionary landing following the strike. As shown in the video below, the tail of the aircraft was damaged, but no injuries were sustained.

“This could have been a disaster & we are glad everyone is okay,” the Los Angeles Police Department said via Twitter. “Be a responsible and legal unmanned aircraft operator … know & follow the rules.” The LAPD also pointed to a 2015 Los Angeles ordinance (PDF) that prohibits the operation of civilian unmanned aircraft within five miles of an airport, more than 400 feet above the earth’s surface or at night.

The helicopter was reportedly flying over downtown Los Angeles at about 1,100 feet AGL at the time of the incident. The identity of the object that struck the aircraft has not yet been confirmed and the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. I hope this does not happen again. Then, why are toy drone operations accepted as having to get worse before getting better? Toy Drones are a source of annoyance.

    • The keywords of this argument, “The identity of the object that struck the aircraft has not yet been confirmed”

  2. “which prohibits the operation of civilian unmanned aircraft …..

    Translation: Police already operate drones within 5 miles of airports, more than 400 feet above the earth’s surface, and at night. It’s only a problem if police hit a civilian drone, not you you hit one of their black, unlit, police drones. See how this works?

  3. Didn’t know that cities could make air space rules. What’s next, prohibiting single engine airplanes from flying over cities or at night? It’ll make for some interesting chart supplements.

  4. I don’t understand how this could have happened. A while back, we were told right here on Avweb that there was no way a drone could take down an aircraft. Hmmm … maybe that was bogus info ?

  5. How do we know that the helicopter wasn’t the aggressor and the drone the victim?

    Ya’ gots to be wary of rogue choppers, especially in the dark.

  6. The LAPD responded to this within-an-inch-of-a-catastrophe, “Be a responsible and legal unmanned aircraft operator … know & follow the rules.” And, oh yeah, “Don’t drink and drive.”
    I expect both responses to be equally effective. At least with cars, the operator has some skin in the game; UAVs, not so much, by definition.
    In order to fly in controlled airspace, I am now required to spend thousands of dollars to equip my 50-yr-old Skyhawk so that anyone with a cellphone and free software can identify it and retrieve my name and address from the public FAA database. Yet in two weeks thousands of drones will be received as gifts, containing nothing more than a slip of paper exhorting the new user to “be responsible and … follow the rules.”
    Historically, someone (or usually, a lot of someones) had to die before the FAA clamped down on something that had been obvious to pilots for years. This will be no different.

  7. Recently, just southeast of Sacramento and eastbound to Tahoe level 10,500 feet, I passed a black quadcopter drone hovering within 100’ left of my flight path. 1) I didn’t realize they could fly that high and 2) WTF. I did notice a flashing red light on it as I went by, which must be the ‘responsible’ part to this particular drone pilot…