It appears that the manned aviation community is jumping to conclusions with egregious claims that the RQ-7 Shadow “ran into” or even, “crashed into” the C-130. These comments were made without seeing photos and/or interviewing those involved. Such a rush to judgement is outrageous! Preliminary reports given to sUAS News, along with exclusive photographs, suggest other possibilities. We as a community can only hope for an impartial and unbiased investigation.
Put out as “news” by the NBAA September 12, 2011
Unmanned Aircraft: Will Deployment Impact Business Aviation?
“A recent accident involving two military aircraft cast a spotlight on the potential risks involved. In mid-August, an RQ-7 Shadow unmanned surveillance aircraft collided with a C-130 Hercules during a mission over Afghanistan. The reconnaissance drone, which sports a 14-foot wingspan, struck the left wing of the turboprop transport, reportedly rupturing a fuel tank but otherwise causing little damage. The Hercules made a safe emergency landing; the unmanned aircraft was destroyed.”
Military Cargo Plane Struck by Drone
September 10, 2011 Buffalo News|by Dan Herbeck
A military cargo plane from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station was damaged when an unmanned drone crashed into it during an Afghanistan mission last month, officials have confirmed.
The C-130 Hercules transport plane, assigned to the 914th Airlift Wing of the Air Force, had to make an emergency landing after it was struck by the drone on Aug. 15, authorities said.
Crew members — including at least two people from the 107th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard, according to sources familiar with the incident — were unhurt.
“That’s very rare … I’ve never heard of that happening before,” said Keith J. Mackey, an aviation safety consultant. “Without a doubt, the crew is lucky that no one was hurt. If the drone had crashed into the cockpit and disabled the crew, it could have brought the [cargo] plane down.”
The incident is likely to fuel further debate about the military’s increased use of remote-controlled drones in the Middle East and whether drones are safe in American airspace, Mackey said.
“The investigation is still ongoing as to the cause, and until it is completed, we’re not going to release very many details,” said Sgt. Amanda Currier of the Air Force Central Command at Shaw Air Base in South Carolina.
The most important thing, Currier said, is that no one was hurt.
She said the C-130 cargo plane had to make an emergency landing in eastern Afghanistan after it collided with a remote-controlled RQ-Shadow tactical aircraft, commonly known as a drone.
Currier said she could not specify what section of the cargo plane was hit by the drone, how much damage was done or how the pilot was able to land the cargo plane without injuries.
Curious that these outlets and interests would start pointing to military operations. A break with tradition, as all of the good news or “data” supporting the million+ hours flown in overseas operations without incident are summarily discounted out of hand. Should we as a community take the NBAA’s statements as an indication that the manned stakeholders are ready and willing to accept the overseas data? If so, years of hand wringing are over, as the FAA has hit the data mother load. No need to reinvent the wheel, this data is immediately implementable since the FAA can easily employ the GAATA (General Aviation And Air Taxi Activity) survey matrix to extrapolate safety statistics, thus advancing the airspace integration effort by putting unmanned on numerical on par with the other NAS stakeholders.
If not the above, then is it too much to ask for the unmanned aviation community to be extended the courtesy of not being judged before the incident investigation is complete?