Drone Shot Simulates Airplane Collision

AlphaAtlas

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The government recently passed tougher drone regulations, while private institutions are looking for their own drone security measures. As it turns out, there's a reason pilots and regulators are afraid of collisions between aircraft and drones. Researchers at the University of Dayton shot a 2.1 pound drone towards a wing at 238 miles per hour, and filmed the results in slow motion.

See the carnage for yourself in the video here.

After calibration work to ensure they could control the speed, orientation and trajectory of a drone, researchers fired a successful shot at the Mooney wing. The researchers then fired a similarly weighted gel “bird” into a different part of the wing to compare results. “The bird did more apparent damage to the leading edge of the wing, but the Phantom penetrated deeper into the wing and damaged the main spar, which the bird did not do.” Poormon said additional tests using similar and larger drones on other aerospace structures, such as windscreens and engines, would provide critical information about how catastrophic a collision would be. He and his team are hoping even this first test result will help bring awareness to the manned and unmanned aviation communities about the importance of regulations related to safe drone operating.
 

GoodBoy

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That is pretty scary. If a wing in flight had that happen, it would quickly get blown apart by oncoming air, building pressure inside it that would blow off the skin. No wing, no fly.
 

iamjanco

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Happens a lot in bird strikes; drones would be no different. Imagine what could happen to a spinning jet engine if it ingested a drone during a flight.

From Quora: "The GE-90 as used in the B-777 rotates at 2,250rpm the engine core probably about 13,000 rpm."
 

92miata

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That is pretty scary. If a wing in flight had that happen, it would quickly get blown apart by oncoming air, building pressure inside it that would blow off the skin. No wing, no fly.

No Doubt. I sure wish that drones would go the way of Windows XP. Most of the people that I see flying them are incredibly narcissistic.

They are great for a weapon, though.
 

kju1

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That is pretty scary. If a wing in flight had that happen, it would quickly get blown apart by oncoming air, building pressure inside it that would blow off the skin. No wing, no fly.

No it wouldnt. Ive hit bigger birds and had worse damage than that...not to say thats not bad damage. Because it is. I certainly would slow way the fuck down and limit my maneuvers to only those necessary to land. But I have brought back much more damaged wings than that before.

Personally I'd never fly a drone/rc craft near an airport or high enough to interfere with a real plane's flight path. Unfortunately laws aren't made for people with common sense.

Just so you know a lot of small planes regularly fly between 500-3,500 feet. I put 500 because that's the legal minimum in a sparsely populated area.
 

Darunion

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Personally I'd never fly a drone/rc craft near an airport or high enough to interfere with a real plane's flight path. Unfortunately laws aren't made for people with common sense.

Fly aways can happen if the controller goes off in the weeds. You can have failsafes in place for it but only so much can be done. I once had one of mine have too much of a voltage dip during a move that screwed with the flight controller and on top of it, the magnetic flux from the power lines reoriented the compass. It was a mess, thankfully no one got hurt and only minimal damage to the quad.
 

PaulP

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No it wouldnt. Ive hit bigger birds and had worse damage than that...not to say thats not bad damage. Because it is. I certainly would slow way the fuck down and limit my maneuvers to only those necessary to land. But I have brought back much more damaged wings than that before.



Just so you know a lot of small planes regularly fly between 500-3,500 feet. I put 500 because that's the legal minimum in a sparsely populated area.
That was a small/medium sized drone. Imagine the damage from a larger drone. In a small aircraft it might take the wing off.
 

Mohonri

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Wing: om nom nom...

Given fuel is located in the wing, that's pretty damn scary..
That depends on the model of the aircraft. Some do indeed use the leading sections of the wing for fuel, but my impression is that those are in the minority, and a larger number of small aircraft have fuel in the middle section of the wing, behind the spar.
 

kju1

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That was a small/medium sized drone. Imagine the damage from a larger drone. In a small aircraft it might take the wing off.

Highly unlikely unless your talking like a predator or something which is basically a small aircraft and entirely outside the reach of non commercial entities. Most wings are really damn tough and are engineered to withstand an amazing load factor (typically more than 2-3x the weight of the aircraft). The wing skin is typically held onto the spars and ribs in sections so the damage would likely be absorbed by the leading edge for a section of wing. I have seen the entire inboard 3rd of a leading edge of a wing just destroyed by a mid air with what the pilot claimed was a bird (saw no blood) and he safely landed it.

On most planes there are multiple attach points for the spars into the spar box or main fuselage frame. Here is a good image on a Piper Arrow - which DID recently have a wing separation, of how the wings are constructed.

0516_piper_spar_graphic.jpg


Also a larger drone would be more visible and thus avoidable. Plus anything legally capable of operating under part 107 (like the Phantom) is limited to 100MPH and to under 55lbs.

Now I am not saying it couldnt happen but lets be honest at just how likely this would be. Most drones are going to be smaller than the Phantom for the casual operator. As a pilot I am not so worried about the legal commercial operators with 10lb+ drones. No I am worried about the fly by night illegals and casual person who knows nothing about the law putting a drone through my windshield.

Wing: om nom nom...


That depends on the model of the aircraft. Some do indeed use the leading sections of the wing for fuel, but my impression is that those are in the minority, and a larger number of small aircraft have fuel in the middle section of the wing, behind the spar.

Yup its highly dependent on aircraft. Some use tanks, some use bladders. Typically those are located in the middle section of the wing as far inboard as they can be if it has only 2 tanks (left and ring). Sometimes they have aux tanks which are outboard. There are also tip tanks....which you guessed it are on the tips of the wings!
 

PaulP

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Highly unlikely unless your talking like a predator or something which is basically a small aircraft and entirely outside the reach of non commercial entities. Most wings are really damn tough and are engineered to withstand an amazing load factor (typically more than 2-3x the weight of the aircraft). The wing skin is typically held onto the spars and ribs in sections so the damage would likely be absorbed by the leading edge for a section of wing. I have seen the entire inboard 3rd of a leading edge of a wing just destroyed by a mid air with what the pilot claimed was a bird (saw no blood) and he safely landed it.

On most planes there are multiple attach points for the spars into the spar box or main fuselage frame. Here is a good image on a Piper Arrow - which DID recently have a wing separation, of how the wings are constructed.

View attachment 112413

Also a larger drone would be more visible and thus avoidable. Plus anything legally capable of operating under part 107 (like the Phantom) is limited to 100MPH and to under 55lbs.

Now I am not saying it couldnt happen but lets be honest at just how likely this would be. Most drones are going to be smaller than the Phantom for the casual operator. As a pilot I am not so worried about the legal commercial operators with 10lb+ drones. No I am worried about the fly by night illegals and casual person who knows nothing about the law putting a drone through my windshield.



Yup its highly dependent on aircraft. Some use tanks, some use bladders. Typically those are located in the middle section of the wing as far inboard as they can be if it has only 2 tanks (left and ring). Sometimes they have aux tanks which are outboard. There are also tip tanks....which you guessed it are on the tips of the wings!
The impact with the DJI Phantom damaged the spar, according to the video, because it penetrated much further into the wing than a bird strike. A 50 pound drone would potentially have 10 times the impact energy, and while that may not be enough to sever the spar, it could compromise the structural integrity of the wing to such an extent that the wind loads (now increased due to the damage) may be enough to cause catastrophic failure. Small aircraft wings are not designed to take direct strikes from 50lb hard objects. This is a worst case scenario, of course. In most instances, a glancing blow will be very survivable.
 

xorbe

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Also a larger drone would be more visible and thus avoidable. Plus anything legally capable of operating under part 107 (like the Phantom) is limited to 100MPH and to under 55lbs.

You aren't avoiding anything that small when flying a plane that fast. It's the plane moving at 200+ mph ... the drone could be quite stationary. Hell, the drone could be trying to fly away from the plane at 50 mph. The pilot would likely never see it.
 

viper1152012

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Many things. I dont know planes firstly.

Someone said the fuel is behind the "Spar".

The article said the drone damaged the spar, and it just a medium sized one with no extra kitting.

Then someone said they could just turn to avoid a larger one??
So if it's not painted Hunter orange and matches paint on runways and .. From my knowledge... You can't turn a large jet on a time... Then you would likely collide with it at over 200mph even on landing.

Sound like a huge issue.

Like no operating drones within 4 miles of an airport etc...

Thats All I got.
 

Johan Steyn

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Nope, can't be true, we all saw how a plane went right through a whole building, coming out of the other side. So a little plastic drone cannot even make a dent in a plane's wing. But I do suppose these drones might be a lot stronger than the steel bars of a building, as well as the concrete.

Nope, I call this a conspiracy for sure.
 

kju1

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You aren't avoiding anything that small when flying a plane that fast. It's the plane moving at 200+ mph ... the drone could be quite stationary. Hell, the drone could be trying to fly away from the plane at 50 mph. The pilot would likely never see it.

Oh so when did you last fly a plane? Ive seen party balloons 2 miles+ away going 200mph...

Also for the record the human eye has a harder time seeing stationary objects vs moving ones. Movement is easier to see.
 

xorbe

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Nice round party balloons ... flat drone ... one of these is going to be a lot harder to see than the other!
 

Jagger100

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I do have an issue with the statistical likelihood of hitting the drone just right.
 

Kardonxt

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Isn't whipping a drone at a stationary wing going to give different results than a wing that's in flight generating a buttload of lift? Would the drone be partially deflected by airflow? I would be interested to see the test replicated in a wind tunnel.
 

kju1

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Nice round party balloons ... flat drone ... one of these is going to be a lot harder to see than the other!

*rolls eyes* Ok whatever Ive seen birds that far away too. Are they flat enough for you? But hey what would I know...I just fly the damn machines. Youre the internet expert.
 

Trepidati0n

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I do have an issue with the statistical likelihood of hitting the drone just right.

We already know that the statistical likelihood of birds taking about both engines of an aircraft is not zero. We already know that the statistical likelihood that this will result in a forced landing is also not zero. Therefore, the statistical likelihood me telling you to take your statistics comment and shove it somewhere when it comes to human life is definitely not zero. ;) =P
 

kju1

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We already know that the statistical likelihood of birds taking about both engines of an aircraft is not zero. We already know that the statistical likelihood that this will result in a forced landing is also not zero. Therefore, the statistical likelihood me telling you to take your statistics comment and shove it somewhere when it comes to human life is definitely not zero. ;) =P


Eh? Theres been like two occurrences of a commercial airliner losing all engines due to bird strikes. Thats pretty damn close to zero. Most bird strikes just dont do anywhere near that level of damage. Hell I hit 4 or 5 a month and all they do is wash the wings. 9/10 it doesnt even leave a dent.

That 10th time can be a bitch though....esp if it goes through the cockpit. That shit is fucking disgusting when it hits you in the face.
 

aaronspink

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Isn't whipping a drone at a stationary wing going to give different results than a wing that's in flight generating a buttload of lift? Would the drone be partially deflected by airflow? I would be interested to see the test replicated in a wind tunnel.

Physics wise it generally doesn't matter if the drone or plane is moving. Air gets compressed around the winds, but even more than birds, drones are basically non-compressible, in contrast, and thus will be minimally impacted by airflow.

A wing in flight will have both high static and dynamic loading but to a first order, the test is perfectly fine.
 

lcpiper

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Highly unlikely unless your talking like a predator or something which is basically a small aircraft and entirely outside the reach of non commercial entities. Most wings are really damn tough and are engineered to withstand an amazing load factor (typically more than 2-3x the weight of the aircraft). The wing skin is typically held onto the spars and ribs in sections so the damage would likely be absorbed by the leading edge for a section of wing. I have seen the entire inboard 3rd of a leading edge of a wing just destroyed by a mid air with what the pilot claimed was a bird (saw no blood) and he safely landed it.

On most planes there are multiple attach points for the spars into the spar box or main fuselage frame. Here is a good image on a Piper Arrow - which DID recently have a wing separation, of how the wings are constructed.

View attachment 112413

Also a larger drone would be more visible and thus avoidable. Plus anything legally capable of operating under part 107 (like the Phantom) is limited to 100MPH and to under 55lbs.

Now I am not saying it couldnt happen but lets be honest at just how likely this would be. Most drones are going to be smaller than the Phantom for the casual operator. As a pilot I am not so worried about the legal commercial operators with 10lb+ drones. No I am worried about the fly by night illegals and casual person who knows nothing about the law putting a drone through my windshield.



Yup its highly dependent on aircraft. Some use tanks, some use bladders. Typically those are located in the middle section of the wing as far inboard as they can be if it has only 2 tanks (left and ring). Sometimes they have aux tanks which are outboard. There are also tip tanks....which you guessed it are on the tips of the wings!


So I'm not a plane guy. Just a layman's knowledge and I appreciate your sharing yours. Makes me a little more dangerous :LOL:

But, I do have my share of life's experiences behind me and the words "highly unlikely" bring another phrase to mind, "if it can go wrong, it will go wrong". Sooner or later Murphy wins out. Would suck to be the guy had to learn that first hand in this case.
 
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Tsumi

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Many things. I dont know planes firstly.

Someone said the fuel is behind the "Spar".

The article said the drone damaged the spar, and it just a medium sized one with no extra kitting.

Then someone said they could just turn to avoid a larger one??
So if it's not painted Hunter orange and matches paint on runways and .. From my knowledge... You can't turn a large jet on a time... Then you would likely collide with it at over 200mph even on landing.

Sound like a huge issue.

Like no operating drones within 4 miles of an airport etc...

Thats All I got.

Commercial planes have fuel tanks that can seal themselves up. Fuel leakage and loss is not going to be a concern unless a hole is put in it the size of a person, at which point half your wing is probably gone.

But yes, drone usage near airports is a big issue. Not just from a safety standpoint, but a cost standpoint as well. Jet engines can run anywhere from $2 million to $20 million, and a drone getting into one of those things will almost certainly require a full engine replacement. That will only drive insurance rates up which would drive ticket prices up. There is no way a normal drone operator can pay back the damages caused, assuming they catch the operator in the first place.
 

c3k

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No, commercial planes rarely have self-sealing fuel tanks. Most just use the leading and trailing spars and the skin as the tank.

Also, the leading spar has electrics, pneumatics, and hydraulics attached to it.

Finally, the spar provides structural supports for the wing.

Penetrating the spar is far more dangerous than damage to the leading edge of the airfoil.
 

kju1

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Many things. I dont know planes firstly.

Someone said the fuel is behind the "Spar".

The article said the drone damaged the spar, and it just a medium sized one with no extra kitting.

Then someone said they could just turn to avoid a larger one??
So if it's not painted Hunter orange and matches paint on runways and .. From my knowledge... You can't turn a large jet on a time... Then you would likely collide with it at over 200mph even on landing.

Sound like a huge issue.

Like no operating drones within 4 miles of an airport etc...

Thats All I got.

Youre thinking in two dimensions. You can avoid something by raising or lowering a wing. Or you can climb/descend. Also you dont go 200mph when landing. Even a 777-R only flies the approach at 176mph at max landing weight (465k lbs i think) but thats not the landing. Final approach speed is done much lower. I dont have a manual in front of me but I know from a friend that the stick shaker comes on at 109kts, so I would imagine its somewhere between 109kts (125mph) and 153kts (176mph). Probably 1.3Vs.

My problem is they dont say what the "damage" is to the spar. Is it a crack? A dent? A scratch? A chip off an edge? The engineer and pilot in me wants to know. Its also a "perfect strike" right between two ribs. So that would be a worst case scenario.
 

James Robinson

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These kinds of 'tests' are minimizing what actually happens. You're not seeing what the wind force is going to do to the edges of that wing when it catches them, the shearing force tearing it open. All you see is a sterile impact.
 

Jagger100

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We already know that the statistical likelihood of birds taking about both engines of an aircraft is not zero. We already know that the statistical likelihood that this will result in a forced landing is also not zero. Therefore, the statistical likelihood me telling you to take your statistics comment and shove it somewhere when it comes to human life is definitely not zero. ;) =P
Birds fly in flocks and engines are trying to scoop in a large cross-section of air, wings actually need air to flow around them. As such the drone a little bit above or a little bit below would miss the wing from air-currents or catch it at non-oblique angle and deflect off with significantly less damage. Basically on the wing, the drone needs to land on a knife's edge zone to do damage. For the engine the bird/drone needs to land in swimming pool. Which begs the question, why isn't a drone a bigger threat to the engines than a bird? Because they aren't. Same for a wing. But there's a track record of birds being a non-issue relatively with wings.

Birds can take out wings, yet we don't fret over it because its low occurrence.
 

Trepidati0n

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Birds fly in flocks and engines are trying to scoop in a large cross-section of air, wings actually need air to flow around them. As such the drone a little bit above or a little bit below would miss the wing from air-currents or catch it at non-oblique angle and deflect off with significantly less damage. Basically on the wing, the drone needs to land on a knife's edge zone to do damage. For the engine the bird/drone needs to land in swimming pool. Which begs the question, why isn't a drone a bigger threat to the engines than a bird? Because they aren't. Same for a wing. But there's a track record of birds being a non-issue relatively with wings.

Birds can take out wings, yet we don't fret over it because its low occurrence.


You are missing the point. We also don't actively CREATE threats either....holy hell. "This is your captain speaking....I hit the RNG app on my phone and it says I need to tell the tower to put a drone up in our fight path. We shouldn't have any problems but I would highly encourage you to really pay attention to the safety briefing this time".
 

kju1

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You are missing the point. We also don't actively CREATE threats either....holy hell. "This is your captain speaking....I hit the RNG app on my phone and it says I need to tell the tower to put a drone up in our fight path. We shouldn't have any problems but I would highly encourage you to really pay attention to the safety briefing this time".

Ok since logic is hard how about math:

In 2016 there were approximately 13,000 wildlife collisions per the FAA. Also in 2016 there were 15,631,000 FLIGHTS handled by the FAA. So about .08% of those flights experienced a strike or one in 1,200. General aviation alone flew 24 million flight hours so if we just blindly assumed that GA accounted for 100% of all hours and thus stirkes (they dont, Commercial flies way more hours but I dont have that stat easily available) then there is one strike every 1,846 hours. If you assumed that commercial flew just as much as GA the odds go way down...one strike every 3,692 hours.

There are 5.2 million square miles of domestic airspace. Thats a lot of room. The FAA claims that there are 5,000 aircraft in the sky at any time sharing that 5.2 million square miles.

Worry about something else and let the professionals continue to deal with this in their way.
 
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