A research team from the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) has released a report (http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASAirborneCollisionReport.php) that concludes that drones that collide with large manned aircraft can cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for a given impact speed.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will use the research results to help develop operational and collision risk mitigation requirements for drones. ASSURE conducted its research with two different types of drones on two types of aircraft through computer modelling and physical validation testing.
Unlike the soft mass and tissue of birds, most drones are made of more rigid materials. The testing showed that the stiffest components of the drone – such as the motor, battery and payload – can cause the most damage. Concentrating those masses on the drone can also cause greater damage, the researchers found.
The research team evaluated the potential impacts of a 2.7-lb. quadcopter and 4 lb. quadcopter; and a 4-lb. and 8-lb. fixed wing drone on a single-aisle commercial transport jet and a business jet. They examined impacts to the wing leading edge, the windshield, and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The windshields generally sustained the least damage and the horizontal stabilizers suffered the most serious damage.