Prince William in the cockpit of the EC145 helicopter. Photograph: Olivia Howitt/Courtesy of BBC/Reuters
Monday, March 27, 2017
Helicopter regularly flown by Prince William escapes drone crash - Charles D'Alberto
Duke of Cambridge was not on board at time of incident, but investigators say mid-air collision was only avoided by luck
An air ambulance regularly piloted by the Duke of Cambridge “narrowly avoided” a collision with a remote-controlled drone, according to an official report.
The helicopter avoided a potentially deadly mid-air crash with the drone by “chance”, 580 metres (1,900ft) above north London at 7.45pm on 26 August.
Investigators found there had been a high risk of the two aircrafts coming into contact, “endangering the EC145 and its crew” over a busy area.
A report by the UK Airprox Board, which probes such incidents to improve air safety, suggested the drone was flying above its permitted altitude.
The Eurocopter 145, which is used by the East Anglian air ambulance (EAAA), has been flown regularly by the duke during his work for the service.
An EAAA spokeswoman said: “The Duke of Cambridge was not on shift when the drone incident took place.”
In its findings, which concluded the incident was in the highest category of risk, Airprox said: “Members agreed that the drone was apparently being operated over a built-up area without CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) permission, was above the altitude where it could be considered in direct unaided line of sight and, if using FPV (first-person view), was above the 1000ft allowed by regulation.
“They therefore agreed that this could be considered as endangering the EC145 and its crew in that the drone had been flown into conflict.
“Notwithstanding the difficulty of visual assessment of range without visual cues, when allied to the pilot’s overall account of the incident the board considered that the reported range was such that this was a situation where a collision had only been narrowly avoided and chance had played a major part.
“They therefore determined the risk to be category A.”
The ambulance control room was contacted by the worried pilot, telling them to inform the police, it added.
A spokeswoman for EAAA said: “We can confirm that, in accordance with aviation regulations and procedures, a pilot reported a drone in his proximity on 26 August 2016.
“The Duke of Cambridge was not on shift when the drone incident took place.
“There are strict rules that drone operators must follow and it is important they are aware of their responsibilities for safe operations at all times.”
The drone pilot was never found, the report said.
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