Large scale model and fullsize aircraft collison underline need for Detect Sense and Avoid

Moments after the midair at Van Aire Airpark Colorado

The elephant in the room for civilian unmanned aerial system operation, detect sense and avoid or rather the development of it came sharply into focus last weekend.

A manned biplane hit and destroyed a large model aircraft during a  charity event at Brighton (CO),Van Aire Airpark on the 14th of Aug 2010.
The FAA has confirmed that they are investigating the incident which on the face of it seems to stem from poor communication.
The alleged pilot of the model aircraft let his feelings known at hobby community site Heated debate on the right and wrongs flowed in a now closed thread after he stated the following.
“Ok Slick bro’s ya ready for this (expletive deleted). Bad news. The Slick is dead!! She was hit by a full size Pitts Special, Iv got pics & video I will be uploading real soon, Cory, and me went to do a demo for a childrens charity event at a real airport, and I was hovering on the deck and down comes a full size Pitts , dude and his wife were flying in it, and he procedes to do a high speed on the deck pass without clearing with the flight boss and wham !!
He made an emergency landing, leading edge of his bottom wing has a 1’X1′ foot dent, and is not flyable. Dumbass could have killed himself and his wife pulling crap like that, No clearance with control whatso ever, and all I got was im sorry. Now im out $8000.00, but I got an apology which is worth nothing, ya wont believe the video !! Coming soon !!! Damm !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
No doubt the FAA investigation will answer many questions and help those that think models have right of way over manned aircraft to adjust their compass.
For the unmanned community it grapically demonstrates how quickly things can go wrong and how we should strive for best practice at all times.
It also gives the FAA and aviation authorities around the world a stick to beat us with. In a glass half full sort of way it also shows how little damage might be made by a UAS to a manned aircraft. Thankfully nobody in the air or on the ground was hurt.
The operation of sUAS in the UK rely on staying within visual range of the UAS, defined as 500m and flying below 400′. Letting your UAS fly into a position where you cannot take avoiding action is just not on.
The UK has an advantage in regulation designed to police UAS flight and promote safe operation.

Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.