EASA study into collision risk to aircraft from drone strikes defines key hazards

A European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) research project addressing the ‘Vulnerability of Manned Aircraft to Drone Strike’ has published a report entitled Collision envelope specification and justification report (D2.1). The report represents the output from ‘Task 2’ which includes definition of collision scenarios and parameters that are relevant to the aims of the programme. This includes definition of the drones involved, example aircraft to represent the certification specifications of interest, and prioritised impact zones on each category of aircraft. Collision speeds are also evaluated, plus the relative orientations of the drone and manned aircraft at the point of impact.

The three-year research project, led by Qinetiq, was launched in June 2020 with EUR1.8 million Horizon 2020 support funding. The study has three main objectives:

  • To deepen the understanding — through experimental testing and simulation techniques — regarding the effects of a potential collision of drones in the consumer / prosumer market segment (‘threat’) with manned aircraft (‘target’); a synthesis report on these simulation and experimental activities and obtained results is planned 24 months after project start;
  • to identify drone design strategies aimed at containing the risk that drone-aircraft collision may induce on the aircraft and its occupants; and
  • to draft design requirements and test standards for future drones to be put on the market within the EU open category (CE marking) addressing the containment of the above risk.

The programme of work undertaken by QinetiQ, is spilt into nine tasks relating to research planning, development and validation, exploitation and mitigation, whilst remaining engaged with Stakeholders.

The project is structured in the following manner:

  • Task 1 — Review of the State of the Art and Establishment of the Baseline for the Work; International Cooperation
  • Task 2 — Establishment of the ‘Collision Envelope’
  • Task 3 — Development and Validation of Modelling Approaches
  • Task 4 — Development and Validation of Models for ‘Threats’ and ‘Local Targets’
  • Task 5 — Development and Validation of a Simulation Set for Collision Events and Impact Damage Prediction; Synthesis Report on the Vulnerability of Manned Aircraft
  • Task 6 — Design and Development of a PC-based Tool for the Mapping and Post-Processing of Collision Damage Data
  • Task 7 — Survey of Current UA Design Practices and Identification of Design Improvements with Low Damage-inflicting Potential in case of Collision
  • Task 8 — Recommendations for drone design and test standards
  • Task 9 — Supporting Activities — Stakeholder Involvement

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