Drone Collisions Worse Than Birds, FAA Says

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A yearlong study by a consortium of university researchers has found that drone strikes are likely to inflict more damage on aircraft than strikes by birds of similar weight and speed, the FAA said this week. Commercial aircraft are designed to withstand bird strikes up to 8 pounds for the fuselage and 4 pounds for the windscreen, but they may be damaged by a drone strike of that weight, the researchers found. Drones are made of hard, stiff materials, while birds are mostly water, the researchers said. The study was based on computer simulations, with additional data from testing of materials and components.

The lithium batteries used in drones also pose a danger, the study found. In a high-speed impact, the battery would be destroyed. But at a lower speed, such as during landing and takeoff, the battery might be lodged in the airframe, presenting an increased risk of a battery fire. The consortium plans to continue its research through 2021, and will study the effect of drone collisions on GA aircraft, rotorcraft and turbofan engines. The complete report is posted online.

Comments (3)

A year long study to determine the obvious.

Hitting a hard metal object will cause more damage than hitting a soft object. With the conclusion being only that it is "likely".

I fell on the ground once. I fell on concrete once. After a year long study I concluded that I am more "likely" to be hurt when I fall on concrete.

Who woulda thunkit.

Probably all paid for with FAA grant money.

Posted by: Jeff Land | November 30, 2017 8:48 AM    Report this comment

Hitting a bunch of plastic isn't going to do much, I'll wait until it happens and we have actual data.

Posted by: Thomas Wiley | November 30, 2017 10:39 AM    Report this comment

I thought we shot chickens into jet engines? Why don't we shoot drones in there and see what happens? Of course that would be after a three year debate as to which drone to use.

Posted by: Vince Brytus | December 1, 2017 9:06 AM    Report this comment

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