Risk in the Sky?

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The following description was updated Oct. 22 for clarification: Tests performed at the University of Dayton Research Institute’s Impact Physics Lab show that even small drones pose a risk to manned aircraft. The research was a comparative study between a bird strike and a drone strike on an aircraft wing, using a drone similar in weight to many hobby drones and a wing selected to represent a leading edge structure of a commercial transport aircraft. The drone and gel bird were the same weight and were launched at rates designed to reflect the relative combined speed of a fully intact drone traveling toward a commercial transport aircraft moving at a high approach speed. See the full story at https://www.udayton.edu/blogs/udri/18-09-13-risk-in-the-sky.php. For media requests or use of this video by your organization, please email udripr@udri.udayton.edu.


Геннадий Дёмкин : it means the quadcopter is breaking the plane, right? I conclude from this that it can destroy a building. we all remember 9.11 infuriating the lie of the rulers

An Coats : Cardboard wing....fake test...BUILD YOUR PLANES STRONGER THEN FFS

Restricted User Mode : This should be considered fraudulent and tagged as scaremongering, but sales for this video have just maxed out with the fake news being presented at Gatwick.

RYCOP FPV : Not much actual 'Risk in the Sky' if you fact check. To start with, the test scenario is extremely unlikely to the point of being contrived. The odds are extremely small for a drone to be high enough to meet a plane flying at that speed or for a plane to be going that speed where drones are likely to be flying. Despite that, it's interesting to note that the video shows no evidence of catastrophic damage to the plane's wing, meaning that the wing in this video is not shown to be at a clear risk of failure. For context it's probably worth mentioning that there has been a grand total of three drone/aircraft collisions worldwide thus far and that in all instances the aircraft were flyable after each incident. Not to mention that there have been zero documented fatalities or life threatening injuries caused by civilian operated drones ever, under any circumstances. In terms of 'Risk in the Sky' aircraft are a much bigger danger to other aircraft than UAVs are. Based on documented evidence on collisions between aircraft and aircraft/UAV collisions, and even if we throw out all evidence older than two or so years old to 'level the playing field' it's abundantly clear that collisions between aircraft are both more likely to occur and more likely to pose a risk of fatality or life threatening injury than collisions between aircraft and UAVs. That's before getting into all of the other causes of air crashes, which are manifold. Just some simple facts, which anyone is free to check (or dispute) themselves on Wikipedia.

rontz : Speaking about a bird: where's the part with the bird? And how is the wing of a little 4-seated plane comparing to a commercial transport aircraft's leading edge structure? Doesn't seem like a video made for research-pusposes, but made for making afraid of drones.

Trent Cox : This is a bunch of bs. Test was conducted inconsistent to testing standards and should be removed or footnoted. Can’t believe a university allowed this to be posted.

Yetcha : Planes are flying too low 😂😂😂

DYORD : Not accurate.. drone would just slide following the airflow on the wings. My point is, make a video of a drone crashing on to the running turbine/engine.

Eric Jaakkola : Who's going to be flying 250 mph at less than 400 feet?

Edymnion : Except that you threw a drone at the wing of a small aircraft at speeds which it would never realistically occur. If we want to mock up imaginary scenarios that won't actually happen, I'm sure we could get the Mythbusters to shoot a chicken through a tank if we gave them enough budget.

Peter King : Wonder if that's covered under DJI Care Refresh.

CineTechGeek : This is irrelevant. A large bird would do exactly the same thing. This is over hyped info to justify unrealistic restrictions.. Large birds are far more common the drones and also have incidents like this. It is extremely unlikely to bring a plane down.

Ordaichte Poileas : I like how all the news, government agencies and techies like kimkomando push everyone to this video as if it has happened. I have been flying for 40+ years and haven't even hit a bird.

Kamon23 : Consumer drones generally do not fly that high. I mean birds would cause the same sometimes worse damage.

MrLunithy : catastrophic' risk to flights ?????? when were what? New figures show pilots at Australian airports have spotted hundreds of drones in restricted airspace in the past two-and-a-half years lol as a former flyer you cant see them no confirmation fear mongering FROM abc THERE AT ALL not!!!

Pat Gould : Next, I want to see a slow-mo video of an engine ingesting one of these into it.

William Alexander : Reminds me of the testing after the Columbia accident where they fired foam at Space Shuttle Leading edge heat shield tiles. At high impact speeds it doesn't require a lot of weight to cause a lot of damage.

solaris8x86 : DJI copters are very danger.

Bert Osterberg : The test was done at twice the velocity that even bird strikes were performed. The plane wouldn’t achieve that speed unless it was in a nosedive and headed to a fatal crash. All other crash tests were at half the speed performed by everyone else, even the government. Dayton could be held liable for singling out DJI with falsified data designed to damage their business

Monolith Fan : So basicly you launched a drone with a rocket blast into an airplane wing. A BOOK thrown at the right velocity can go THROUGH the ENTIRE BODY of a plane at the right speed.

CactusJackSlade : At what speed was the impact? (Cruising speed of the aircraft?)... what was the assumed speed of the Phantom?

TheCric : This is clearly explained why you should never NEVER go near an airliner with a drone !

Adi Adrian : Attack of the.....drones

Kalle Braun : Das geht nur mit einem Plastikflieger, würde man zentimeterdicken Stahl, wie bei den Stahlträger in den Zwillingstürmen, verwenden so würde der zentimeterdicke Stahl von dem Flugzeugflügel einfach durchschnitten werden.

doigal12345 : Remind me again what the birdstrike requirement is for CS-23 airframe?

F. W. : And what about that guy who was flying in his house connected to a thousand baloons? How much damage would that create?

The Photographer : And in DJI's objection letter to the video, I stopped reading when I got to here..."I represent DJI, the world's largest manufacturer of toys"..... :D xD But I do agree that these toys are build like boat anchors and wow, that plane caught the evidence!!

ray lang : A bird strike does the same kind of damage.

_shifty : weak test. you also claim a bunch of "other research" that you never show.

HandcrankedFilms : Dang man! Messed up that drone. Hope it's ok.

Moses : a duck does the same thing at 400mphs

Jeff Session : This is why pilots need to maintain proper altitudes

Alvin Dickens : I wonder if one we're to fire the same type drone into a modern car at the same speeds involved in aviation would convince the average person of the dangers involved. They could relate to that better than seeing an aircraft structure experience sunch an impact. If they see what it would do to a automobile made up of more steel, maybe they could understand what it would do to an aluminum/composition structure.

lolipopus : 0:23 *hacker voice* I'm in!

George Menaxas : dubai pizza drones near airports?

Ostal : Dam i blinked

RCnerd74 : The solution is simple. Don't fly your drone where full scale planes are flying...

BorkToThe3rd : Where is the drone's footage?

Justin Waldman : How dangerous? Very!

jason Michaud : Why would a m20 be flying at 200mph under the 400' ceiling that UAF's typically operate at?

Jason Farmer : I was not expecting that. Lol

Werner - bugre_FPV : Dear @University of Dayton Why is the bird impact test not on the same video so we also could compare and see it? Please share it and also add it to your press release. Why was the drone so perfectly aligned, that the front arms penetrated as nails into the wing of the Mooney20? In real "live" what is the chance that a drone is flying totally leveled and aligned to the wing's inclination ? Why had the drone no props on? Maybe to avoid that it would change the drone's trajectory/deflecting it ? How did you simulate the air pressure that travels in front of an aircraft that also would impact the drone's collision trajectory?

Christian Balme : On dirait que le drone n'a pas ses hélices ?

Ange1walk : While this video doesn't proof jackshit, as birds can do far more damage, but i agree that idiotic behaviour while flying your drone should be charged and even with jailtime. How come i have to pay hundreds of $$$ of Documents and Permits to fly my drone, just because some adults aren't safe enough to operate their drone and act like kids.

Michael Davidson : We all understand your point, you fly near airports or at dangerous altitudes, you should get prosecuted! But drones are just as dangerous as SWANS, GOOSE & EAGLES. Google in images "a damaging bird strike" and see what the bird can do to an airplane. The point is, drones are getting smaller and lighter. DJI along with FAA are already implementing a system that would track and trace drones down to their serial numbers if you are flying near airports. There is already a great number of restrictions on flying drones. So instead of spreading fear, maybe try naming your article something like "Impact of a drone against a tiny plane's wing"

Andrew McLellan : Drone pilots should not be flying in restricted areas but the University of Dayton video is actually really embarrassing for the University. They should be committed to good science and not fear mongering for publicity. They should be reviewing realistic speeds and determining risks and probabilities of mid air collisions from multiple causes for a realistic comparison. I would categorize this video as anti-science.

Nicholas Ward : Dji’s response to this video: October 19, 2018 Via Electronic Mail Kevin Poormon University of Dayton Research Institute 300 College Park Dayton, OH 45469 Dear Mr. Poormon: I represent DJI, the world’s largest manufacturer of small unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as drones. We lead the industry in developing systems to help ensure drones continue to safely share the airspace with traditional air traffic. DJI takes aviation safety seriously. It is integral to who we are as an organization and as aviation professionals. We have proactively incorporated dozens of safety features into our products, including altitude limitation, airport geofencing, return-to-home failsafe systems, computer vision anti-collision sensors, and pilot knowledge testing. We also support research professionals who work alongside the industry and regulators to provide academic grounding to aviation safety efforts. It is thus distressing to see how the University of Dayton Research Institute has recklessly created and promoted a video that falsely claims to depict a dangerous condition posed by one of our products. Your “Risk in the Sky?” video, blog post and media tour created a collision scenario between a drone and an airplane wing that is simply inconceivable in real life: • Your video assumes a Mooney M20 light aircraft is flying at its maximum possible speed of 200 mph, and encounters a drone apparently flying faster than its maximum possible speed of 33.5 mph. The plane could only achieve such speed at full cruise, typically more than a mile above ground. At the altitudes where that plane would conceivably encounter a Phantom drone, it would fly less than half as fast — generating less than one-fourth of the collision energy. • Your video was created contrary to established U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) crash test parameters, which assume a bird striking an airplane at its sea-level cruising speed — which is typically 161 mph to 184 mph for Mooney M20. Your video deliberately created a more damaging scenario, and was widely cited as evidence for what could happen to a large commercial jet — even though the Mooney M20 is a small plane with four seats. • Your video was not created as part of a legitimate scientific query, with little description of your testing methodology and no disclosure of data generated during the test. Your blog post describes a similar test performed with a simulated bird that caused “more apparent damage,” but your decision not to post or promote that video indicates your bias toward sowing fear. This contrasts with the reputable research performed by the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE), the FAA Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which meticulously tests a variety of impact scenarios in order to provide the public, the FAA, and the UAS industry, with supportable conclusions about risk. You have done nothing of the sort. Given UDRI’s wide-ranging publicity efforts in print, broadcast and online media, it seems clear that your misleading video and incendiary blog post seem designed to generate paid research work for UDRI at the expense of the reputation of drone technology broadly, and DJI’s products specifically. Your public comments deliberately present an entirely improbable, if not impossible, event as a commonplace risk routinely faced by airplane pilots. To elaborate on the points outlined above, the impact velocity tested, 238 mph, far exceeds any conceivable collision speed between a Mooney M20 and a DJI Phantom 2. The M20J Pilots Operating Handbook lists the maximum structural speed of a Mooney 20 at 174 knots, which is 200 mph. Cruise speed will typically be 140-160 knots (161-184 mph), more than a mile above ground. The Phantom, and our other drones, have built-in altitude limitation features. Thus in the altitudes no higher than several hundred feet above ground where a drone is likely to operate, the Mooney M20 would be taking off or landing at speeds between 70-88 knots (81-101 mph). As for the other aircraft in this scenario, DJI has not manufactured the Phantom 2 drone for years, but its published specifications indicate a top speed of 15 meters/second, or 33.5 mph. In other words, it is virtually impossible for these two aircraft to encounter each other at the speed of your test. Given that kinetic energy, and therefore resulting damage, increases by the square of velocity, the arbitrary increase in your test velocity results in dramatically more damage. More to the point, a test deliberately designed to generate the worst conceivable outcome is contrary to the FAA’s established testing parameters, which seek to measure the risk that an aircraft is most likely to encounter. The relevant Federal Aviation Regulation states an airplane must be capable of successfully completing a flight despite striking a bird at the equivalent of the aircraft’s cruise speed measured at sea level, which as stated above is 161-184 mph for the Mooney M20. Your test was thus performed at a speed 54 mph to 77 mph faster than a responsible collision test would require, creating a case that is unrealistic and damaging to the reputation of our company’s products. Reputable testing institutions have meticulously tested a variety of impact scenarios in order to provide the public, the FAA, and the drone industry with supportable conclusions about risk. ASSURE has set the standard for this work by releasing detailed reports with careful documentation of their testing methodology and hundreds of pages of data. By contrast, the limited information available about your demonstration prevents anyone from determining other flaws in your methodology and conclusions. Your video and blog post have been promoted in media around the world, yet nowhere in any of your print or television appearances have you qualified the limited and unrealistic nature of your test. As a safety researcher, surely you understand the detrimental impact on public perception when purported scientific research is not presented with appropriate caveats and with an opportunity for peer review and alternative views. Unbalanced, agenda-driven research does substantial harm to our industry and to our company. Policymakers at all levels of government have responded to sensational media coverage by proposing and enacting new restrictions on drone ownership and use. These limitations prevent people and businesses from using drones safely for beneficial purposes, such as performing hazardous inspections or finding missing people. At least 195 people around the world have been rescued from peril by drones, many of them saved by small drones such as DJI Phantoms. By misleading the public and promoting fear about drones, you are undermining their benefits and encouraging restrictions on their lifesaving uses. We respectfully demand that you withdraw your research, remove the alarmist video from circulation, and issue a corrective statement to the public and to all of the media outlets you have appeared in, acknowledging that the configuration of the test was invalid given the flight envelopes of the two aircraft tested, FAA testing standards, and the limited value of a single test. Yours very truly, Brendan M. Schulman Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs cc: Dr. Allan Crasto, Director, UDRI Mary Ann Poirier Recker, Vice President and General Counsel, University of DaytonDJ

pimpciak : Put a bumper on that sucker ;p

Sabre22 : Unless it causes a fuel leak and subsequent fire. A drone strike on a appears to be survivable. However what about an engine swallowing a drone with gas powered engines. Or a strike on the cockpit glass with a small explosive charge .