From the SUAS Feed

Earlier this week a pilot from Idaho was preparing to begin a spray run through a field. Barely visible ahead of him was a small stationary object. He decided it must be a kite since a bird would not remain motionless. As he neared the object, it rapidly shot straight up. The pilot took evasive action but it passed so close to the airplane that he was unsure if it had missed the aircraft and spray system. It was close enough for him to be able to identify the make and model of the quad-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). He did not see the vehicle again as he finished the field but he did see the suspected operator/pilot in a car near the field. When he went to the next field, the car followed him where he observed the car’s occupant taking pictures with a hand-held camera.

Full article here: UAV near miss with crop duster

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • I completely agree with Paul. Yes.. it's a legal boondoggle But the FAA is about to ban us outright based on information given them by RC circle flyers, at the AMA, that don't even understand how their planes work.

    If we don't do something we will find ourselves outlawed. We know how to make this safe. We're doing it every day! I'm not talking about integrating our systems into existing full scale aviation frequency's I'm talking about using 2.4ghz and 433ghz just like we do now. An offer an alternative for full scale aircraft add a system and to use that telemetry data to avoid collisions.

    Flying in a circle at a field, with a buddy box, within of line of sight. is not an acceptable option for me. I'll fly outlaw, and most of us will. That will drive us more and more out of the mainstream until there is a real full scale aircraft crash as a result of their being no collision avoidance system in place in the US.

    That will be the end of our hobby.

  • Well, you see... THERE is the problem; making it work with EXISTING Aircraft comms channels. Now you have not only the FAA involved, but the FCC as well.

    That's a can of worms I'm not too excited to open... actually, more like bopping a Hydra on the nose just to say "Hi!"


    Pants are highly overrated.

  • @ Eric

    I hadnt really thought about using our telemetry radios for this but that would seem like the easiest way to implement it. Perhaps some more knowledgeable person could write the code for this and we could just implement it ourselves? Something that would broadcast speed, heading, etc at regular intervals on some frequency common to manned aircraft communications channels? Seems like cheap insurance considering the cost of a radio transmitter. If it could be adopted by all aircraft, so much the better! 

  • There are some very smart guys working very hard on mavlink, which is open source. I'm willing to bet they could come up with a collision avoidance system that could be standardized and greatly reduce the possibility of near misses like this one.

  • There' isn't yet but it would be easy to set up, with existing, cheap off the shelf, telemetry radios. Most Uavs use these already. They transmit gps location altitude, heading and speed just like a commercial aircraft's transponder, Just at much lower power. They have a range if many km with a directional antenna. Full scale aircraft could easily add these if a standard were developed, for the cost of a tank of AV GAS.  

  • Forgive me if this is a noob question but is there nothing like AIS for aircraft? Its a simple system that could surely be downsized for use in UAV's and would certainly be easily employed in manned aircraft. AIS uses a relatively low power transceiver to transmit basic info like speed, heading, and callsigns of various craft in your vicinity.

    For anyone wondering AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and is widely used in the marine world.

    For a more in depth explanation:

  • It's also noteworthy that apparently the pilot of WBK was not monitoring local public address radio frequencies. It appears that actually, the UAV operator in this case was following Air Traffic Safety Regs, while the pilot of WBK was not.

    Just guessing here, but it's probably hard to hear the squawkbox over the iPod blasting in your ear... ;)

    On a related note; what are regulations regarding strobe lights as safety devices on UAVs? Seems like a strobe might have made the UAV much more noticeable in this case; but maybe there are restrictions making them only applicable to terrestrial obstacles...?



  • It's noteworthy that the UAV operator notified the authority's of the near miss. The full scale pilot never knew he was there..

  • Here is the real incident that occurred in Australia. With a link to the official report. 

    Late last year a Sensefly eBee 178 UAS was carrying out aerial surveying work over Iluka’s Echo mineral sands mines when it had a near collision incident with a crop duster.

    According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, after the operator carried out their pre-flight preparations and risk assessment, they heard an aircraft operating at a nearby property.

    The operator attempted to contact the ag plant aircraft operating nearby, but couldn’t raise him on the radio, and instead got the mine manager to contact the farmer and notify the pilot.

    However, the information was then miscommunicated to the pilot who assumed, when told that an aircraft was carrying out aerial surveys, it would be a fixed wing plane.

    During the UAS operations it came within 100 metres horizontally and 70 metres vertically of the aircraft. However the pilot was unaware of the near collision incident.

    Following an investigation the mine’s UAS operator carried out a presentation on UAS to air traffic controllers at the nearby Moorabbin Tower, with the mine starting a campaign to advise agricultural aircraft operators of their work, what UAS look like and protocols for sharing airspace.

    The key take-out fromthe report however is that UAS operators must do more to communicate their intentions and operations with other airspace users.

    The full report can be downloaded here.

    ATSB Summary:

    On 12 September 2013, at about 0930 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of an Ayres S2R aircraft, registered VH WBK (WBK), commenced aerial agricultural operations on a property about 37 km south-southwest of Horsham aerodrome, Victoria.

    At about the same time, the operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Sensefly eBee 178, arrived at the Echo mine site to conduct an aerial photography survey. He heard WBK operating about 1-1.5 km away and broadcast on the area frequency advising his intention to conduct unmanned aerial photography operations but did not receive a response. He asked the mine manager to contact the farmer and notify the pilot of WBK.

    The UAV operator then commenced the flight at about 390 ft above ground level (AGL).

    After completing the first load of fertilizer, the farmer informed the pilot of WBK there would be an ‘aircraft’ conducting aerial photography over the Echo mine site. The pilot assumed this would be a fixed-wing aircraft operating at or above 500 ft AGL, and intended to remain at or below 350 ft AGL to ensure separation.

    At about 1000, the UAV operator heard WBK and observed the aircraft conduct a turn about 150 m north of the UAV, before it departed to the north. The operator immediately put the UAV into a holding pattern to maintain its current position. He estimated WBK was at about 100-150 ft AGL and came within about 100 m horizontally of the UAV. He attempted to contact the pilot of WBK on the radio but did not receive a response.

    The pilot of WBK reported operating at about 50-100 ft AGL on a block just north of the mine site and did not see the UAV.

    This incident highlights the challenges associated with having a diverse mix of aircraft operating in the same airspace and the need for all pilots and operators to remain vigilant and employ see-and-avoid principles

    Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
  • Also, this story is total B.S. anyway. It never happened. I's a lie...   I called the FAA. they have no record of this. I just spoke to Vicki Growler, the editor of the Idaho statesman she is not aware of this 5 day old story. It seem to me, someone in the AG Aircraft industry, recycled this from an incident In Australia, back in may.

    Crop-dusters have a vested intrest in banning UAVs in this country. They are afraid UAVs will put them out of business and with good reason. Small UAVs can do the job, cheaper, smarter, faster, safer, and with less overspray that can harm the ecosystem.

    There are huge commercial interests that don't want us to fly our little planes, and quads, and shure as hell don't want us putting flight control systems on the internet for anyone to use. Get involved, write the FAA and demand your rights be respected, or you WILL loose them.

This reply was deleted.