Study: Toy Drones Pose Serious Threat to Manned Rotorcraft

Aero Kinetics, an aerospace and defense firm, has concluded in a new study that toy drones pose a significant threat to manned rotorcraft during all phases of manned flight.

The study, entitled “The Real Consequences of Flying Toy Drones in the National Airspace System,” examines what can happen when a collision occurs between a toy drone and a manned aircraft.

The report defines a toy drone as “a fixed-wing, rotary-wing or multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle weighing under 50 lbs. that is fitted with an autopilot and intended to be controlled, through a remote communications link, by an individual on the ground.” Specifically, these are drones not certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as “airworthy aircraft.”

The study further compares a toy drone strike with historical data on bird strikes, which are proven to cause significant damage to manned aircraft and loss of human life; according to current estimates, birds (which are made of 50% water) striking manned aircraft cost $951 billion per year in the U.S. alone, says Aero Kinetics. Therefore, the study concludes that the impact of a toy drone, made of plastic, metal and engineered materials, with a manned aircraft in a collision would be even more catastrophic.

“We cannot control when and where birds fly, but we do have the ability to regulate drone activity to mitigate the risk of drone strikes and protect the flying public,” the study concludes.

“Most people don’t understand how threatening a toy drone can be. Toy drones are not unmanned aircraft,” says W. Hulsey Smith, CEO of Aero Kinetics. “Make no mistake; lives are at stake. This study is meant to bring the risk into perspective and inform consumers of the dangers that exist. Safety matters and is the driving force that can bring together the FAA, the aerospace industry and the toy drone industry so that we can find the best ways to put meaningful regulations in place for toy drones.”

Aero Kinetics is currently exploring the possibility of building a consortium to conduct further research on toy drones. Those results could help shape the future of manned aircraft design requirements and toy drone regulation – saving millions of dollars and many lives, the firm explains.

“The toy drone industry is not regulated in the same manner unmanned aircraft are in the aerospace industry,” adds Smith. “We believe the solution is multi-fold, including educating the public, doing additional testing, creating dedicated operating areas, monitoring air traffic to separate flight space, and understanding and implementing effective standards for certification.”

For the full study, click here.


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