A suspected drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), collision has been reported with a light aircraft at Rand Airport and an investigation into the incident is underway.
The Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA) on 30 October said a drone is suspected to have struck an airborne training aircraft on 27 October, causing the pilot to make a precautionary landing after hearing a loud bang shortly after take-off.
An accident investigation by the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s (SACAA’s) Accident and Incident Investigations Division (AIID) is underway.
Initial unconfirmed accounts indicate that considerable wing damage to the training aircraft led to the suspicion that an aerial drone was responsible for the collision. While bird strikes are usually synonymous with visual clues like blood and feathers, they can cause substantial damage to an aircraft. The investigation will determine the actual cause of the accident and therefore it cannot be immediately assumed a drone is to blame, CUAASA said.
“It needs to be highlighted however, that airborne drones do pose a substantial risk to manned aircraft. A drone ingested into an engine could cause a catastrophic accident. It is therefore important to remind drone owners to follow the regulations and specifically not to fly their drone near aerodromes,” CUAASA said.
“The holiday season is upon us and a time when aerial drones might be considered appropriate gifts to gadget enthusiasts and youngsters alike. While hobbyists might be impressed by the technical capabilities of their newfound gadget, flying responsibly, safely, and according the SACAA hobby rules is paramount to keeping the skies safe.”