A Charleston helicopter pilot said a white quad-copter drone flew into his airspace during flight training. (Source: Pixabay)
DANIEL ISLAND, SC (WCSC) -
Federal authorities are investigating a helicopter crash that happened Wednesday near the southern tip of Daniel Island.
A Robinson R22 helicopter struck a tree and crash-landed Wednesday afternoon, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Kathleen Bergen.
Charleston Police met with the two passengers of the crash later that afternoon, according to an incident report.
The instructor told police he is a private helicopter instructor and was giving a lesson to a student pilot at approximately 3:30 p.m. While the student was practicing "low impact and hover taxi maneuvers" above undeveloped land on Daniel Island, they turned and saw a white "DJI Phantom quad-copter" drone headed into their airspace, the report states.
Police say the instructor took controls of the helicopter to avoid the drone and while attempting to land, the helicopter's tail rudder struck a small tree, causing him to lose control of the helicopter.
The instructor was able to land the helicopter on its rear landing skids but it turned over on its side, the report states.
The instructor notified the owner of the helicopter and FAA investigators.
The student told police they were about 50 feet above the tree line when the drone entered their fly space. She said when the helicopter struck the tree, several pieces of the helicopter hit surrounding brush causing the helicopter to turn on its side when it landed.
"The student told police they were about 50 feet above the tree line when the drone entered their fly space. She said when the helicopter struck the tree, several pieces of the helicopter hit surrounding brush causing the helicopter to turn on its side when it landed."
My thing is he didnt crash until he attempted to land. So not at the time of spotting the drone. So still pilot error that is in big trouble so obviously has to put the blame somewhere. Never said how close the drone was. And sorry but instead of crashing causing risk to myself or the passenger the drone will be getting taken out instead of trying to maneuver. Trying to place blame elsewhere obviously to cover pilot error. Obviously the pilot forgot how to land.
Not really much info here, but my impressions: Setting aside whether the quad was in a restricted area, the drone pilot should have been aware of the presence of the helicopter and take steps not to be in near proximity. We don't know how close it actually was, but if the instructor felt compelled to take over, then it was probably too close. Second, I suspect that the instructor overreacted to the perceived threat and lost situational awareness which resulted in the tail strike and eventual crash - pilot error. But I would regard the quad's presence was a contributing factor.
AirMap indicates some areas are clear, it also shows that some of the area is within the radius of a couple hospital helipads, a touch is in the Charleston airport airspace, and maybe a touch of a military base. It will be interesting to see how this one develops when more details are known.
If the drone pilot was in the right, then he or she should have no problem in contacting the FAA, informing the agency of their presence in the area at the time of this incident, and cooperating with the investigation. That IS, if they were in full compliance with FAA regs and all applicable local and/or state laws. Weren't they???....