NTSB Blames Drone Operator In Collision
The operator of a drone that collided with a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter in September didn’t see the aircraft because he was flying the drone beyond visual range, the NTSB said on Thursday. The operator also lacked adequate knowledge of the regulations and safe operating practices for drone flying, the safety board said. The incident occurred in New York, at an altitude of about 300 feet. The helicopter crew landed safely. Parts of the drone were lodged in the helicopter’s engine-oil cooler fan, and a 1.5-inch dent was found on the leading edge of one of the four main rotor blades. The drone operator was flying for fun, the NTSB said, and was unaware of the TFR in place at the time. He did not hold an FAA remote pilot certificate. Also this week, the FAA’s rule requiring owners to register small drones was reinstated.
The rule, which had required drone operators to register online, display a registration number on their drone and pay a $5 fee, was tossed out by a D.C. court in May. The new rule was attached to a defense policy bill that was signed into law this week. Also this week, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University said it will offer a free, two-week online course for drone operators. The course, “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Key Concepts for New Users,” will run from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4. Participants will learn about equipment, airspace, legal requirements and flight planning, as well as how to become commercial drone operators. “We have had consistently great feedback about this course,” said Prof. Kristy Kiernan, lead educator for the class, which has been offered annually since 2015. “We are especially excited about the updates and changes we have made to reflect the most up-to-the-minute information in this rapidly changing part of aviation.” The instructors for the class include full-time ERAU faculty and experts from the unmanned aircraft systems industry. Registration is now open.