In Flight UAV Strike Testing In UK
Drones will be deliberately smashed into passenger jets as part of a radical testing programme triggered by fears of a catastrophe in British skies.

Ministers ordered the tests after a series of near misses, some near major airports. They have committed more than £250,000 to pay for a private study of what would happen if a drone struck a window or the fuselage of a plane. The move is in response to growing concerns from pilots that drones, which contain heavy lithium batteries, could pierce a plane windscreen.

The secretive tests were ordered by the Department for Transport, in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Ministry of Defence.

Peter Downer of the defense ministry told the Daily Mail, “We are conducting mid-air collision studies for the CAA to look at impact of aircraft with unmanned vehicles. There is a series of trials about the security risks, and we need to continue this with a commercial study. There will be further studies of mid-air collisions of drone impact with fuselage and windows.”

They are being carried out by Qinetiq, whose experts have the run of 5,000 square miles of restricted airspace in Snowdonia, Wales.

It comes as the Department for Transport prepares to finally publish a long-awaited consultation on the future of drones.

The testing will be conducted by QinetiQ  at the Wales Unmanned Aircraft Systems Environment (WUASE) “which offers a complete infrastructure for UAS operations; from first flight through to testing, training and operational programmes.” This seems to be the equivalent of a FAA Test Site and is very much at the center of UK UAS research.
QinetiQ itself is a very interesting company with considerable expertise in autonomous systems for land, sea and air. With some 6,000 employees, it is one of the UK’s largest research and technology organizations and works closely with the UK Ministry of Defence.
No word as to what actually will be done. When it comes to busting up jetliners, £250,000 doesn’t go terribly far. A lot of people have called for this work to be done though not necessarily in mid-air. The FAA is conducting some research at Wichita State University.

The video is a computer simulation produced by a Virginia Tech professor of an 8-pound drone crashing into a commercial jetliner engine. The drone strike destroys a chunk of the engine’s blades. “Whether a drone actually could bring down a commercial plane would depend on the size of the drone.”

As this History Channel video from 2009 shows, there are clearly established protocols for jet engine bird strike testing mandated by the FAA.

Many people have asked why this type of strike testing has not already been done.



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