British aviation occurrence analyst AAIB has released details of a bizarre incident involving an experimental drone. A scale model of an Alauda Airspeeder Mk II racing drone weighing 95 kg became uncontrollable, climbed to a height of about 2.5 km, and then crashed due to an empty battery just next to a residential area.
The Airspeeder can best be described as a cross between a Formula 1 car and a racing drone. The company behind the Airspeeder wants to organize races with manned drones in the future. It sounds like the Podrace from Star Wars, but in real life. The first races with unmanned aircraft are planned to take place this year, before racing with manned versions of the race drone in 2022.
Before you can race, however, a lot of testing has to be done. To this end, Alauda develops scale models of the final Airpeeders, which are controlled remotely. But during a test flight in West Sussex with such a scale model on July 4, 2019, things went horribly wrong, according to an investigative report just published by the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch reports (AAIB).
While conducting a demonstration flight, the pilot remotely lost control of the 95kg Alauda Airspeeder Mk II scale model. After the loss of control was acknowledged by the remote pilot, the safety "kill switch" was activated. However, this had no effect. The unmanned aerial vehicle then climbed to about 8,000 feet (about 2.5 km) and entered controlled airspace at a waiting location for flights arriving at Gatwick Airport, until the battery ran out and the plane crashed. The aircraft landed in a field about 40 m from inhabited houses, 700 m from the test area. There were no injuries.