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Open AccessFeature PaperCommunication

Exploring Civil Drone Accidents and Incidents to Help Prevent Potential Air Disasters

by 1,*, 2,† and 1,†
School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
School of Engineering, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup WA 6027, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Konstantinos Kontis
Aerospace 2016, 3(3), 22;
Received: 11 May 2016 / Revised: 19 July 2016 / Accepted: 19 July 2016 / Published: 22 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Aerospace)
A recent alleged “drone” collision with a British Airways Airbus A320 at Heathrow Airport highlighted the need to understand civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) accidents and incidents (events). This understanding will facilitate improvements in safety by ensuring efforts are focused to reduce the greatest risks. One hundred and fifty two RPAS events were analyzed. The data was collected from a 10-year period (2006 to 2015). Results show that, in contrast to commercial air transportation (CAT), RPAS events have a significantly different distribution when categorized by occurrence type, phase of flight, and safety issue. Specifically, it was found that RPAS operations are more likely to experience (1) loss of control in-flight, (2) events during takeoff and in cruise, and (3) equipment problems. It was shown that technology issues, not human factors, are the key contributor in RPAS events. This is a significant finding, as it is contrary to the industry view which has held for the past quarter of a century that human factors are the key contributor (which is still the case for CAT). Regulators should therefore look at technologies and not focus solely on operators. View Full-Text
Keywords: RPAS; UAS; UAV; accidents and incidents; safety RPAS; UAS; UAV; accidents and incidents; safety
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wild, G.; Murray, J.; Baxter, G. Exploring Civil Drone Accidents and Incidents to Help Prevent Potential Air Disasters. Aerospace 2016, 3, 22.

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