A 22-year-old American may be sentenced to a year in prison for endangering a police helicopter and violating various rules for flying a drone. The man was arrested after investigators found fragments of his drone, which had collided with the helicopter shortly before. The helicopter was damaged, but was safely grounded.
The incident took place on the night of September 17-18, 2020. The police helicopter was on its way to a burglary report at a pharmacy in Hollywood (USA). The drone pilot was curious about the uproar and had the drone take off from his garden to have a look. However, the drone ended up in the flight path of the helicopter. The helicopter pilot saw the drone approaching and tried to avoid a collision, but he couldn't.
As a result of the collision, various parts of the helicopter, including the nose piece, an antenna and some of the panels surrounding the engine, were damaged.
The helicopter pilot had to abort the flight and was able to land the aircraft safely. The remains of the drone crashed down and landed on the back window of a car. The parts were found around the car by a police search team.
The drone pilot could be traced on the basis of the serial number of the drone and photos on the memory card. The man was arrested on October 21. The FBI has now charged the drone pilot. The man may be in jail for a year. Various violations were found, including flying over buildings, flying outside the daylight period and endangering an aircraft.
According to the helicopter pilot, the incident could have ended very differently if the drone had ended up in the rotor. The drone in question was a DJI Mavic.
DJI emphasizes that the company cannot be held liable for the incident, and that all responsibility lies with the owner of the drone.