Police-Operated Drone Crashed into a Landing Plane

The Cessna plane that got hit has a propeller damage that could take months to fix.
Ameya Paleja
A drone near an airport.aerogondo/iStock

Globally, policemen have considered drones and drone operators quite a nuisance to public order. In a surprising turn of events, a police drone hit a civilian aircraft while it was attempting to land at Buttonville airport, in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada, local news media reported. 

The incident occurred earlier this month but was not publicized until an incident report from Transport Canada, the authority responsible for regulations, policies, and services of road, rail, marine, and air transportation in the country, was filed. As per the preliminary report, the plane involved was a Cessna 172N on its final approach at the airport. The plane belonged to Canadian Flyers International, a flying school, and had an instructor and a student pilot on board. 

About 500 feet above ground level (AGL), the plane hit something that pushed the passengers back in their seats. The pilot and instructor thought they had hit a large bird and proceeded to land since there was no change to their configuration or power, the report said. 

While the landing was uneventful, the instructor noticed a major dent on the left underside of the engine cowling. A police detective later confirmed, that drone belonged to the York Regional Police and the incident has been classified as 'Propeller strike' and 'Mid-air collision' by Transport Canada. A detailed investigation report from Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is still awaited. 

Speaking to local mediaDario Matrundola, one of the owners of the flying school said that had the pilots were not informed about any drone activity near the airport, some passengers could even have been killed. He also added that legally drones are not allowed in the area, so was very surprised when he found out that the drone that hit their plane was actually operated by the York Police. He expects the damage to take several months to fix while also impacting his business.

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The incident spilled over the social media where users brought out a York Police Twitter post from 2016 about the heavy fines applicable if drones crash into people. A user claiming to be an airline pilot hopes that the TSB makes an example out of York Regional Police. 

In an email, York General Police confirmed that their remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) did collide with a landing aircraft on August 10. Constable Laura Nicolle said that the drone was deployed as part of an active investigation. the police had notified Transport Canada after the incident and are waiting for the investigation to be completed. 

(Update Aug 25, 04:30 am): Article updated to include comments from York General Police. 


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