First Drone-Caused Crash?

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The FAA and NTSB are now mulling the circumstances of a relatively minor helicopter crash in South Carolina that may go down in history as the first U.S. aircraft crash caused by a drone. According to the narrative available so far, the drone didn’t directly cause the crash but the pilot’s evasive maneuvers to avoid it seem to have. Whether that becomes part of the official cause is part of what those deliberations will entail. The Charleston Post and Courier is reporting the Robinson R22, with a student and instructor on board, encountered the drone, possibly a DJI Phantom, while the student was practicing maneuvers over an undeveloped area of Daniel Island.

The instructor told authorities the drone entered the airspace and he took control, trying to avoid a collision. He managed to miss the drone but smacked the tail rotor on a small tree and the helicopter ended up on its side. The aircraft was destroyed but the occupants were not hurt. The instructor reported the accident immediately and the investigators took over. So far, the only confirmed collision with a drone involved an Army Blackhawk helicopter last September in New York with predictable results for the drone.

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