On May 3rd, 2023, an experienced aviator who was a passenger on a HQ JHC Chinook helicopter reported the visual detection of a 50 cm to 1 m size quadcopter passing 30 feet below and 30 feet to the left of the aircraft. The passenger reported seeing a flash of red coloring, and it was unclear whether the drone was stationary or moving.

Heading back to base via Helicopter Route H4, the Chinook had the passenger situated in the rear due to challenging visibility caused by sun glare and cockpit haze. They received clearance to maintain an altitude not exceeding 1300ft based on Heathrow QNH, with a minimum requirement of 1000ft in that specific segment.

No one in the operating crew of the Chinook saw the UAS. Heathrow Radar hadn’t reported UAS activities. Following the debrief, the mission file was reviewed for NOTAMs; none indicated UAS operations.

The main goal of the UK Airprox Board is to elevate air safety within the UK by incorporating insights gained from Airprox incidents reported in UK airspace. In this particular incident, in the Board’s opinion, the reported altitude and description of the object were sufficient to indicate that it could have been a drone.

Earlier this summer, a case study that studied near-midair collisions between small uncrewed aircraft systems and traditional crewed aircraft was released. Three Case Studies on Small Uncrewed Aerial Systems Near Midair Collisions with Aircraft: An Evidence-Based Approach for Using Objective Uncrewed Aerial Systems Detection Technology is a report by Ryan J. WallaceScott R. WinterStephen RiceDavid C. Kovar, and Sang-A-Lee.

For more information on the Consolidated Drone/Balloon/Model/Unknown Object Summary Sheet for UKAB Meeting on June 21st, 2023, please follow this link.

Post Image- Chinook flying over London (Image Credit: Adobe Stock by nowyn)