Toy drone study examines impact scenarios

By UAS Magazine Staff | January 11, 2016

A new study aims at showing the difference between toy and commercial drones and the consequences of toy drones operating in the national airspace. Completed by two executives in charge of a small unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer based in Texas, the study took six months to complete. Based on comparisons with already completed studies on bird strikes with manned systems, the 26-page study has a clear conclusion, according to Hulsey Smith, CEO of Aero Kinetics and co-author of the study. “Toy drones are not designed with aerospace standards or avionics in mind,” he said. “I believe that the general public has been lulled into believing that toy drones are safe due to the ease of operation that the toy drone manufacturers have built into their products.”

The study defines small UAS as those weighing 50 pounds or less that are fitted with an autopilot and intended to be controlled through a remote radio communications link by an individual on the ground. Through comparative analysis, the study found such UAV systems are hazardous to the national airspace and that several steps should be taken to mitigate the current risk.

Among them is the continuation of education to new drone users, according to Smith. Toy drones should also be equipped with ADS-B responders and, in most cases, certain flight zones should be set aside solely for hobbyists to fly in without presenting risk to the NAS. “All options are on the table. To solve this problem is going to take out of the box thinking and we are going to have to embrace emerging technologies as part of the overall solutions,” Smith said.