Drone operator faulted in NY collision with helicopter

A recreational drone operator was at fault in the first confirmed midair collision in the U.S. between a drone and a manned aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday

The operator was unaware the Federal Aviation Administration had temporarily banned drone flights in New York when his small drone collided with an Army Blackhawk helicopter on Sept. 21, the board said in a report on the incident. The U.N. General Assembly was meeting in New York at the time.

The helicopter suffered minor damage while the DJI Phantom 4 drone was destroyed, the report said.

The operator flew the drone 2.5 miles away despite a long-standing FAA prohibition on drone flights beyond the sight of an operator, the report said. The helicopter pilot saw the drone and tried to maneuver away from it, but it was too late to avoid the collision, the report said.

The collision occurred near Hoffman Island, just off Staten Island.

In his interview with investigators, the drone pilot "indicated that he was not concerned with flying beyond visual line of sight, and he expressed only a general cursory awareness of regulations and good operating practices," the report said.

The first confirmed drone collision with a commercial aircraft in North America took place in Quebec City, Canada, in October. The small drone crashed into a twin-propeller Beech 100 King Air with six passengers and two crew members aboard as the plane was descending to land. No one was injured, and the plane landed safely with only minor damage.


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