Vyacheslav Tantashov last September was piloting his DJI Phantom 4 camera drone near Brooklyn, New York, unaware that he was flying his drone in a temporarily restricted area. In consequence, Tantashov’s drone crashed into a US Army Black Hawk helicopter and surprisingly left a 1.5-inch dent in on of its main rotor blades.
No one was hurt in the incident and the copter was thankfully able to land safely after impact.
As for how this collision actually happened, Ars Technica reports that Tantashov was flying his drone about 2.5 miles away from its launch site and was around 280 feet in the air. He allegedly wanted to catch a few striking views above New York.
But when Tantashov ordered his drone to return to its landpad near Hoffman Island, it never showed. After waiting half an hour, Tantashov gave up and returned home, not knowing that his drone had just crashed into a military aircraft.
The NTSB was later able to contact Tantashov because a piece of his drone had actually been wedged into a cooling fan in the chopper, and that piece just so happened to have the drone’s serial number. With that number, DJI was able to help the US government find Tantashov using the sales record.
The NTSB has published a recent report regarding the incident after doing a detail investigation. They report that the co-pilot of the chopper spotted the drone and the pilots took immediate action. But they weren’t able to avoid a collision with the drone.
The NTSB also reports that Tantashov was relying entirely on the DJI Go 4 app for his vision, since he was flying his drone 2.5 miles away and couldn’t see it. Also, Tantashov failed to see that he was flying in an area with a Temporary Flight Restriction that allowed the helicopter to fly there.
In summary, the NTSB concludes that the incident occured because of “the failure of the sUAS pilot to see and avoid the helicopter due to his intentional flight beyond visual line of sight”, and “the sUAS pilot’s incomplete knowledge of the regulations and safe operating practices.”