From Hackaday:

Ignore the article, watch the video at the top of the page. The article is about some idiot, likely not even a hacker, who bought a drone somewhere and nearly rammed it into a plane. He managed this with concentrated idiocy, intention was not involved. While these idiots are working hard to get our cool toys taken away, researchers elsewhere are answering the question of exactly how much threat a drone poses to an airplane.

droneexplode_thumb 250w, 714w" sizes="(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px" />Airplanes are apparently armored to withstand a strike from an 8lb bird. However, even if in a similar weight class, a drone is not constructed of the same stuff. To understand if this mattered, step one was to exactly model a DJI Phantom and then digitally launch it at various sections of a very expensive airplane.

The next step, apparently, was to put a drone into an air cannon and launch it at an aluminum sheet. The drone explodes quite dramatically. Some people have the best jobs.

The study is still ongoing, but from the little clips seen; the drone loses. Along with the rest of us.

Perhaps the larger problem to think about right now is how to establish if a “drone” has actually been involved in an incident with a passenger aircraft. It seems there are a lot of instances where that claim is dubious.

Views: 1999

Comment by Gary McCray on November 21, 2016 at 4:40pm

It would be nice to see some of the data from these tests - simulations, right now they seem to be happening in a public vacuum.

Like they are waiting for something to happen and then say see that is exactly what we predicted.

Not much use if you keep it to yourself.

BTW in the video they said they launched the drone at a :"steel plate" and the video supposedly illustrating the contact didn't actually make any sense or seem to contain any actual drone (Phantom 3) parts - looked more like blocks of foam.

Also really hard to understand what part of an aircraft a steel plate represents or what relevance it has.

Rev up a 737 engine (preferably at end of life on a test stand), toss in a Phantom 3 and run like hell, that will probably tell you what you really needed to know.

Interesting to know that they are doing research, but this video seems particularly useless in describing anything they have learned.

Lame - Puff piece!

Best regards,


Comment by Marc Dornan on November 21, 2016 at 6:39pm
Really we do need to ingest phantoms into jet engines. Why has this not been done?
Comment by Gary McCray on November 21, 2016 at 7:39pm

I'll even volunteer to toss in the Phantom, just don't block my exit!

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 21, 2016 at 9:53pm

Gary: Hint.  You can fly the Phantom remotely at the engine. ;)

I believe this "news" is about 6-12 months old.  I know I saw it some time ago.

I suspect the reason why we are not seeing results from these tests, is because nothing happens.  They don't want to burst the regulatory bubble by admitting there is no real issue.

Comment by Robert Pigeon on November 21, 2016 at 10:58pm

I am currious as to the speed used for tests. Take off speed or high altitute cruise speed.

Comment by JB on November 22, 2016 at 2:20am

Um in that "actual test" it says they fired "drone components" to "simulate" an impact...

So they spent many $10k's on modelling and simulating a drone strike on the computer, but could only afford to shoot some of the drone parts through the air cannon for a real test?? From the looks they actually shoot the components individually and not mounted together in any way (or does the cannon acceleration separate it before impact?)

Either way it's not really any kind of test least not the parts that are shown in the video. 

Comment by Ben on November 22, 2016 at 2:49am

Intriguing video, at least we've learned something : not sure if it proves that a drone can damage a 747, but it surely proves that a 747 can damage a drone :)

Comment by Giovanni Esposito on November 22, 2016 at 4:12am

@Marc It has been simulated:

It's not a surprise that a typical quadcopter sucked into a jet engine it will probably lead to catastrofic engine failure.

The test craft used in the air cannon video it's clearly not a drone.

Comment by Gary McCray on November 22, 2016 at 11:00am

@ Giovanni,

It is definitely my expectation that a Phantom getting sucked into the intake of a big jet would at least shut down the engine with internal damage and possible, depending on the throttle state of the engine at the time result in a spectacular and rapid self disassembly.

But a simulation is not the same thing.

At some point somebody actually needs to do it for real on purpose maybe even a few times at various throttle settings just to illustrate what will really happen and to clarify for the public why it really is necessary to keep these things away from aircraft.

The other things really worth knowing is the effect they would have on wind screens and props.

The other stuff may cause some damage, but those are the ones that might kill you.

The people on this site are actually serious about the value of "drones" and want to see them made use of effectively and safely and the biggest threat we have is going to be from uninformed consumers doing stupid things that will get restrictions and regulations nobody wants.

A good clear video of a jet engine exploding at high performance take off throttle at maximum plane weight from a Phantom going in the intake should make it clear to even the dumbest "drone" user that aircraft and "drones" don't mix.

(Come on Boeing donate an engine to science!)

Best Regards,


Comment by James Pike on November 22, 2016 at 12:45pm

Kind of a crazy debate.  Even if 10 phantoms went through a jet engine without a catastrophic failure nobody here wants to be flying in the 11th.  Beyond that there is a huge variety of construction materials and geometries in drones so the variables is just too varied to every be able to properly know the risks.  Anybody that is flying around an airport or at altitudes that risk an aircraft should be charged with attempted murder.  Kind of feels like the stupidity required to drop cinder blocks off a highway overpass.


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones

© 2019   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service