Near-miss with a drone put air ambulance at the ‘highest risk’
AN AIR ambulance pilot was forced to take evasive action after spotting a drone in their flight path during a mission above Leicestershire.
The helicopter, which is capable of speeds of up to 185mph, had to drop sharply and fly underneath the drone, coming within less than 30ft of a collision.
Investigators at the UK Airprox Board have put the near-miss – which happened just south west of Loughborough at about 11.30am on October 7 – in the highest category of risk.
The helicopter pilot was travelling about 800ft above ground level when they spotted the drone directly ahead at the same height. The legal height for flying drones in 400ft. To avoid a collision, the helicopter pilot dropped altitude and the AgustaWestland AW109 air ambulance passed about 20 to
30ft beneath the unmanned aircraft.
The report from
Airprox, which is a department of the
Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The pilot reports that they were flying from the primary site in Castle Donnington to Glenfield hospital.
“The crew were travelling by land and the pilot was alone travelling to hospital for crew pick-up.
“Approximately overhead West Beacon Farm helipad, at 750-800ft, a stationary object was spotted at 12 o’clock same height. “Avoiding action taken by descending, the object was seen to be a ‘quadcopter’ style drone white in colour. “The drone passed directly overhead estimated 20ft-30ft above the aircraft. “After avoiding action, the flight continued to Glenfield without further incident.” The report states that the reported risk of collision was deemed to be high.
It adds: “The board considered that the pilot’s overall account of the incident portrayed a situation where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed.”
Under UK law there are several rules to avoid collisions involving drones, including the requirement that drones stay lower than 400ft (about 120m), and that they stay at least 50m from vehicles, buildings and other members of the public.
The Drone and Model Aircraft Code also restricts unmanned vehicles going near airports and crowds of people at public events.
To donate to the Air Ambulance Service on its webpage or call 0300 3045 999.
The helicopter pilot was travelling about 800ft above ground level when they spotted the drone directly ahead at the same height.