Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, last week’s reported collision between a drone and a Piper PA-23 was, in fact, a bird strike. Residue on the aircraft’s de-icing boot was analyzed by the Smithsonian Institution and found to contain the remains of a small, non-predatory bird, sources familiar with the investigation told AVweb on Friday. The NTSB has opened up an investigation on the incident but we weren’t given a specific schedule on when its findings might be released.
The incident occurred near Romeoville, Illinois, on Aug. 27 when a PA-23 was cruising at 2500 feet near Lewis University Airport. As AVweb reported, damage to the airplane’s wing leading edge appeared to show a series of vertical indentations and a slice into the rubber de-icing booth that were originally thought to be consistent with a small plastic propeller of the type used on quadcopters. Although the pilot simply reported hitting an object, the Internet rumor mill and internal FAA communication may have lead to the assumption that it was drone even before the damage was analyzed, a source told AVweb.
Although the FAA and news media continue to report a profusion of drone sightings, there are no confirmed reports of collisions between drones and manned aircraft, other than one military incident in Afghanistan.