+VIDEO It’s an event organiser’s worst nightmare: an aircraft being flown on site goes out of control into a full power climb into controlled airspace, then runs out of power and plummets to the ground for a high-speed crash.
This is what happened at Goodwood Aerodrome on 4 July 2019 at 11:40 when the remotely piloted Alauda Airspeeder, a 3-metre long 95kg drone in the shape of an F1 racing car, gave a demo flight in front of a crowd of VIPs standing on top of a nearby building.
The Airspeeder pilot lost control and an emergency kill switch was operated but had no effect. The drone then climbed to approximately 8,000ft, entered controlled airspace at a holding point for flights arriving at Gatwick Airport, before its battery depleted and it fell to the ground. It crashed in a field of crops approximately 40m from occupied houses and 700m outside of its designated operating area. There were no injuries.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has just released its final report into the incident and it’s highly critical of both the Airspeeder operator, Australian company Alauda, and the CAA which authorised the demo flight.
The AAIB said that had the wind at altitude been stronger, there was a ‘significant possibility the UA would have been blow further downwind over Chichester, where it was more likely to cause third party damage and injury’.
The AAIB found the Alauda Airspeeder Mk II was not designed, built or tested to any recognisable standards and that its design and build quality were of a poor standard. The operator’s Operating Safety Case contained several statements that were shown to be untrue.
The CAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Unit had assessed the operator’s application and, after clarification and amendment of some aspects, issued an exemption to the Air Navigation Order to allow flights in accordance with the operator’s Operating Safety Case. The CAA did not meet the operator or inspect the Alauda Airspeeder Mk II before the accident flight.
A number of issues were identified with the design and build of the Airspeeder Mk II, including numerous single point failures:
The assembly of the electronic flight control system failed to meet relevant standards The flight control system was not capable of providing telemetry to the remote pilot
This post was originally published by Flyer Magazine on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.