Drone Near Miss

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foresterpoole
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Drone Near Miss

Postby foresterpoole » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:56 pm

Well, I'll share this near miss on this forum because I think everyone needs to be aware drone pilots and manned aircraft alike, I also turned in a NASA report on it which basically outlines the same thing so here goes:

I am a licensed Part 107 drone pilot and the company I work for uses them to collect aerial photographs of timber harvesting areas and pine plantations for evaluation of health and vigor. What used to take a guy on the ground 3-4 hours can now be done in less than 20 minutes. I had filed a UAS operating area report with Flight Services in an effort to forewarn air traffic (it was class G airspace) I would be operating in the area, the altitude I would be using and the exact times of operation (my reported times are generally 1 hour in duration, I see some that are days, more on that later) and I file 24 hours in advance. I also had a visual observer and a handheld aviation radio tuned to 122.9. The drone was flying a standard grid pattern at 375' AGL. I was facing south looking at the drone and the visual observer was facing north in my blind spot. The drone was 692' from my position heading north when the visual observer yelled out an aircraft sighting, I turned to look at about the time a Cessna 172 cleared the treetops at approximately the same altitude and heading on a collision course (or darn close). Based on the GPS in the drone and an aerial photo the initial sighting was .35 miles away at roughly 120-130 knots closure, best I calculated: 7-10 seconds to react. We could not see or hear the aircraft before this because it was obscured by trees and flying super low. I guess my initial response (according to the visual observer) was "Owe S#^!" I then disengaged the autopilot and tried to maneuver at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to what I thought was the Cessna's course and rapidly descend. It was plainly apparent that it was going to be close so in an effort to speed the decent I cut the engines and let the drone fall. Needless to say I made a pretty hard landing, but avoided the Cessna. Based on my calculations and the GPS course I missed the Cessna by about 200' laterally, way too close for comfort. The Cessna never took any evasive action, I don't think he/she saw me.

As a student pilot and a commercial drone pilot this scared the crap out of me. After thinking about it I believe that the Cessna was probably flying a pipeline in the area which would account for his altitude and a slight bank angle on the aircraft, also it would explain why he/she probably did not even see the drone, looking at a pipeline markers you really have eyes on the ground as much as possible (I've flown as an observer on a few of those so I understand the multitasking of the pilot involved).

So if your still reading here is my take away points:

1. Drones have become more prevalent in the airspace, not every operator has a license or understands airspace restrictions. We need a better way to track locations and altitudes, maybe ADS-B will solve some of this, we just looked into a mini version for our drone that looks promising.
2. Drone pilots need to give realistic reports to Flight Services, exact times, altitudes, etc. A general "I'll be out there for three days 24 hours a day flying around a 16 square mile radius is garbage information that is practically useless.
3. As pilots (myself included) we need to check with Flight Services and seriously pay attention to NOTAM's and UAS operating area warnings. UAS areas are also available for viewing in Skyvector or on 1800WXbrief.com.
4. See and avoid worked this time, maybe one day one of us or myself flying an aircraft won't be as lucky, I'd hate to hit a drone, depending on the model under Part 107 they can weigh up to 55 lbs, that's a lot of weight and inertia for a piece of Plexiglas to take, my guess is a very bad outcome for everyone involved.
Ed

MackAttack
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby MackAttack » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:37 pm

Thanks for the interesting report and I'm glad it turned out ok for everyone. I expect your pipeline guess is probably right. I have yet to see a drone report in any NOTAMs that I have checked recently ... but a drone operator who was going to operate within a couple miles of my airport sent the airport owners a note with his intended days/times of the drone flight. The owner then passed it on to all the aircraft operators at my airport. I was not planning to fly that day anyway but it was good to get that notice. I think we will see more of this... and the problem here is that when two aircraft collide at 300-400' AGL there is little room for evasion or recovery ...

Thanks again!

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drseti
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby drseti » Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:49 am

Thanks for the detailed narrative, Forester. I run Part 107 Remote Pilot licensing classes (see drone-training.org) and would like your permission to share this experience with my students, as well as on facebook.com/UAStraining. I'm very glad you filed a NASA ASRS report. The more we can get of these kinds of incidents in the database, the more ammo it gives to safety researchers and policymakers alike.
Safe Skies,
Paul
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

foresterpoole
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby foresterpoole » Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:38 am

By all means please use it as a training tool! If it raises awareness and saves one near miss from becoming a mid-air or worse it's well worth it!
Ed

3Dreaming
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby 3Dreaming » Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:49 pm

eyeflygps wrote:I know some pilots like to sight-see at low altitude over sparsely populated areas. Maybe that's a practice that would best be eliminated in the name of staying safe. Some here will rail about their "rights," but I will try to stay at reasonably high altitudes except when departing or landing.


I think with exception to some areas out west that about 500 AGL is the limit to fly legally in most of the USA. Since the drones are supposed to operate at no more than 400AGL there shouldn't be an issue. That being said you do have some operations that fly below that 500 AGL figure under a waiver from the FAA. When I flew pipeline patrol we had a waiver to operate below the minimum safe altitudes as called out in 91.119. I think pipeline patrol and aerial application are 2 areas that are going to have issues with drone operations.

I will be teaching a commercial drone operators class at the local junior college in a few months. My main goal with teaching the class is to make sure the people operating these knows the rules, and to help keep the skies safe for GA aircraft

foresterpoole
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby foresterpoole » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:04 pm

Good point about UAS NOTAMs, if you operate under a section 333 exemption which most larger drones do it's usually a requirement of their exemption to file a NOTAM. Unfortunately, Part 107 has no such requirement, I file with Flight Services because I believe it's a added measure of safety. As a student pilot I regularly fly over property my company owns. While never close to 400' AGL, usually 2500+, I know as a pilot I would like to know the risk in flight planning, if nothing else than just to know it might be below me somewhere. Plus, it's just the responsible thing to do in my mind. Like it or not, drones are here to stay, not everyone is going to take precautions. Most regular folks don't even fully comprehend the risk in flying their "kids toy" 800' agl to snap a cool photo of their neighborhood, hell I had a very informative chat with a neighbor who tried it. I live less than 2 miles from an uncontrolled airport and very close to/under restricted airspace for a military bombing range. Those A10's and sometimes F15's and Apache helicopters come in very low for practice runs. He was totally oblivious to the danger.

We all have "rights" but most times they come with obligations as well. We have been granted a wonderful right to fly aircraft either as a hobby or as a living. With that comes an obligation to practice safety and take common sense steps to ensure the highest probability of a positive outcome no matter what the situation. In this case both parties were exercising their rights, lawfully. It was my obligation to give way thank goodness it worked out.
Ed

3Dreaming
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby 3Dreaming » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:48 am

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Last edited by 3Dreaming on Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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drseti
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby drseti » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:23 am

3Dreaming wrote:I will be teaching a commercial drone operators class at the local junior college in a few months. My main goal with teaching the class is to make sure the people operating these knows the rules, and to help keep the skies safe for GA aircraft


Tom, my remote pilot instructional materials are all online at drone-training.org. Feel free to use any of this in your class.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

3Dreaming
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby 3Dreaming » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:32 pm

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Last edited by 3Dreaming on Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

3Dreaming
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby 3Dreaming » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:33 pm

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Last edited by 3Dreaming on Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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drseti
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Re: Drone Near Miss

Postby drseti » Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:11 pm

I'm glad to see everybody here is on the same page.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US


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