Canadian authorities are investigating after a Cessna 172 on a training flight suffered about $4,000 (USD) in damage when it collided with an airborne object near a British Columbia Airport. The aircraft, owned by Abbotsford-based Chinook Helicopters, was turning final to land at nearby Chilliwack Airport when its left wing struck the object, which “left blue bits on the wing,” according to flight school owner Cathy Press. “It was definitely manmade,” she said. “We’re just lucky it didn’t go through the windshield.” Her company offers both fixed-wing and rotary training and the plane was being flown by a student and instructor when the collision occurred at about 500 feet AGL. “They heard it but they didn’t see it,” she said.
The instructor took over, aborted the landing and the duo returned to Abbotsford. Maintenance personnel examined the wing and found the plastic wingtip fairing destroyed, a significant dent in the sheet metal and enough damage to the outer rib that it had to be replaced. “By the time it’s painted and all finished I wouldn’t be surprised if [the bill] is $5,000 (CAD),” she said. Press will have to foot the bill herself because it’s less than her insurance deductible. She said it’s impossible to know if the object was a drone but she doesn’t think it was an RC aircraft because those hobbyists normally know they can’t fly near airports. The incident was reported to Transport Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If the culprit was a drone, it would be one of a handful of airborne collisions between aircraft and drones and the only one that has so far been reported to have caused significant damage.