Can a drone truly represent a threat to an airliner?

Crash-simulationIt is the haunt of the authority. What will happen if a drone strike an airliner during takeoff. Airliners are designed to withstand various impacts. The chicken gun is an example of test to ensure that the windshield of an aircraft can withstand an impact. However for now, while repeatedly drones have been reported near planes on approach or takeoff, no impact has had been regrettable until today. The University Virginia Tech researchers simulated the impact of a 4 kg on a turbojet quadcopter. The result is devastating.

Plane vs Drone : 1 – 0

F-16 polonais

A F-16 Polish such as that which struck a drone September 15, 2015 (Photo: Siły Powietrzne)

On September 15, a Polish F-16 start a drone in the Poznan region. The combat aircraft is pulled out with nothing more than a hitch of paint on the fuselage and a backpack.

If the engine has brilliantly won his duel with a drone, is a jumbo has really something to worry about a small drone? To assess the consequences of such a meeting, researchers from the CRASH Lab (Crashworthiness for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids) the Virginia Tech University engaged in a computer simulation. It was projecting a quadcopter of 4 kg in a turbojet of 2.7 m in diameter, a long-haul motor. The result of this simulation is very clear: in 1/200th of a second, the blades of the engine fan cowls have blown apart with debris thrown at 1,150 km/h.


The simulation conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech Watch editor blades fall apart to the impact of the drone. (Photo: Virginia Tech)

Such an impact, the reactor immediately lost all its power and the pilot must stop him more quickly to prevent the fire. Is (virtually) demonstrated that a light drone is therefore able to reduce to silence a turbojet of good size.

Fortunately, even in such cases, current safety standards would save the aircraft, a twin-engine aircraft with sufficient power available to be able to continue his take-off with only one engine valid. Nevertheless the simulation showed that the danger is real and the Polish F-16 pilot was lucky to see the drone bounce on the cabin of the aircraft and not be swallowed by its reactor…


Translation : Bing Translator
Sources :

“Simulation shows effects of drone hitting an airliner engine”, UASMagazine, November 5, 2015

“Virginia Tech Researchers Seek Remedies for Threat Posed by Drones to Commercial Airliners”, Communiqué Virginia Tech, October 7, 2015

“Polish Air Force F-16 jet collided with drone”, The Aviationist, October 7, 2015

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