Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation- Engine Ingestion is an FAA Center of Excellence for UAS Research- Alliance for System Safety of UAS Through Research Excellence (ASSURE) research project by Dr. Kiran D’Souza, Dr. Gerardo Olivares, and Mr. David Aterburn.

The utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has experienced a remarkable surge in recent years. However, the rapid proliferation of UAVs poses significant safety challenges, particularly regarding their integration into airspace and the potential risk of UAV-airplane collisions. Of particular concern are recreational users who may lack awareness or disregard regulations governing the restricted operation of their devices in specific airspaces. Given their relatively small size, UAVs have the potential to be ingested into aircraft engines, posing a serious hazard.

Currently, regulations mandate full-scale tests on aircraft engines to demonstrate safe operation following ingestion of birds or ice. However, there are no additional certification tests specifically for UAVs, as their components, such as motors, batteries, and cameras, are denser and stiffer than ice and birds. Preliminary research suggests that UAVs can cause more damage than birds, highlighting the need for further studies with models specifically developed and validated for UAV engine ingestion scenarios.

This study addresses two key research questions: (1) to investigate the interaction between a UAV and a representative high bypass ratio fan, commonly used in large commercial transport aircraft, and (2) to establish best practices and fan models for use in subsequent studies. By addressing these questions, the study aims to (i) facilitate the development of mitigation strategies, such as procedures and training, without necessitating changes to existing engine certification standards; (ii) enhance understanding of critical design features of UAVs to influence design practices in the emerging UAV industry potentially; and (iii) provide an open-source fan model for further research endeavors.

Additionally, the study will conduct a critical point analysis on a representative fan model to assess the sensitivity of blade failure and energy transfer to a containment case under various impact scenarios. Identifying worst-case scenarios will enable industry stakeholders to effectively focus their analysis efforts on proprietary models.

Publication Date– November 2022

Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation- Engine Ingestion contains the following major sections:

  • Background
  • Scope
  • Overview of Research
  • Organization of this Report
  • Representative High Bypass Ratio Fan Model for Foreign Object Ingestion
  • Quadcopter Model Validation for Engine Ingestion Conditions
  • Summary of UAS Ingestion Results
  • Key Conclusions and Recommendations

This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Services (NTIS). In addition to the ASSURE website, it is also available from the Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center at

Other related resources of interest include:

UAS Case Studies: Near Midair Collisions with Aircraft

Examination of sUAS operations in proximity to a major U.S. Airport

An Analysis of FAA Enforcement Actions Against sUAS Operators

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