What Happens When You Crash a Drone at 500 Mph Against a Wall

July 17th, 2019
What Happens When You Crash a Drone at 500 Mph Against a Wall

Earlier this year, a drone paralyzed the entire Gatwick airport. But what happens if a drone hits a plane? There are various opinions around this subject, they range from “minimal risk” (like a bird hitting a plane), all the way to “total disaster”. Fraunhofer Institute in Germany ran some studies to solve that question.

DroneCrash_Featured

Image credit: Fraunhofer EMI

Drone Crash Against a Wall?

The drone business has become enormous, and security concerns regarding their usage are continuing to grow. One of the best examples is the introduction of many “no-fly-zones,” but they are not unbreakable. Every year new rules and new regulations are popping up all over the world, often inconsistent. These rules are trying to solve security and safety issues, especially regarding the air traffic in the sky between drones and airplanes.

A German research institute – Fraunhofer EMI – is trying to simulate real impact scenarios between a drone and a plane. To do that, they built a unique test bench. In this bench, they threw a drone with a maximum three kilograms at various speeds – up to 500 Mph – against an eight millimeters thick aluminum plate. And the results are pretty scary.

DroneCrash_Featured

Image credit: Fraunhofer EMI

No surprises, the drone ends up in a million pieces. The Fraunhofer EMI states:

There were substantial deformation and indentation of the plates, and the drone battery and engine were completely destroyed. Tests in this weight class of drone have never been carried out before.

These drone crash tests will be useful for aviation authorities and regulations. This kind of analysis has never been run before. But it also lifts another question, what happens if a drone ends up in one of the turbines of an aircraft?

Drone Crash in a Jet Engine

The only result I was able to find is three years old. In 2018, researchers at the University of Dayton Research Institute did a collision test between a DJI Phantom 2 and an airplane reactor. The least we can say is that neither the drone nor the aircraft won the battle.

A drone is mostly made out of plastic and electronics; the real problem and damages in these tests are caused by the lithium-ion battery that explodes. Yet, more tests need to be run about this as the results are inconsistent and there are too many variables that can influence the outcome.

Yet, while being aware of the dangers, and of course the obligation to fly safely and responsibly with our drones, we shouldn’t get too paranoid about these results and tests. A drone crash against an airplane is extremely rare, and there is no evidence of a plane crashing or being severely damaged by small drones (yet).

What do you think about these drone crash results? Do you take extra precautions near an airport? Let us know in the comments!

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Richard
Richard
Guest
July 17th, 2019

As people have said, there are no reported drone collisions yet. I think these tests are possibly flawed in that the wing is stationery and the Drone is being propelled at an unrealistic speed. If it were possible to do the test the other way (wing traveling at 500mph) then I think the chances of having a direct hit would be near impossible. The effect on an in flight drone from the forces of airflow over the wings and the plane itself, would make a direct impact very difficult, perhaps a glancing blow. A small drone hit has not happened yet, maybe because its just not physically possible. A hit on the engine though is a different matter and would have a profound effect, yet planes are designed for this in relation to birds. The main point is, stay away from Airports, and there are specific laws for that, quite harsh ones too, so is it really necessary to make so many rules and hoops to jump through just to fly a drone around an area to get some (epic perhaps) B-roll for your film project.

Hugo Da Palma
Guest
July 17th, 2019

It’s not truth that a drone stopped Gatwick airport, at the end of the investigation was not proved that were drones the light saw by some pilots, even those who were arrested came out due to no proofs of anything.

Member
July 17th, 2019

There are over 10’000 bird strikes every year. Thats 27+ a day. Just in the western hemisphere as the russions and chinese do not supply data.
There is not a single proofed drone strike of a airliner as of today.
Sure, every strike is one too much and everybody should avoid any risks.
Also engine tests are being done with frozen goose. So a standard sized drone in the Phantom or Mavic class is about the same or even less problematic, as the physical mass of a complete frozen goose is higher.

Also do not forget that Gatwick is a hoax.
The drone in the air was a police drone searching for hackers that were on site creating problems in their IT system ;)
But the press never cares for the final report of such good/bad newes headliners.

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