October 18, 2018

Watch a Drone Strike a Mooney


In a dramatic video recently released by the University of Dayton Research Institute in Ohio (UDRI), a small drone can be seen colliding with a Mooney M20, resulting in significant damage to its wing.

The recording is not of an actual real-world collision, but of a test designed to simulate a collision between a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, a popular and inexpensive model available on Amazon.ca for $700, and the leading edge of a Mooney M20 wing.

The drone, which weighs less than one kilogram, impacted the leading edge of the Mooney wing at a speed of 207 knots (383 km/h), tearing a hole in the wing and damaging the wing spar.

“While the quadcopter broke apart, its energy and mass hung together to create significant damage to the wing,” said Kevin Poormon, group leader for impact physics at UDRI. “We wanted to help the aviation community and the drone industry understand the dangers that even recreational drones can pose to manned aircraft before a significant event occurs. But there is little to no data about the type of damage UAVs can do, and the information that is available has come only from modeling and simulations.”

UDRI, which has been regularly conducting bird-strike tests for 40 years, followed the drone test with the launching of a gel ‘bird’ of similar weight into the Mooney’s wing and compared the results. “The bird did more apparent damage to the leading edge of the wing,” said Poormon, “But the Phantom penetrated deeper into the wing and damaged the main spar, which the bird did not do.”

UDRI is hoping to conduct further tests using a variety of drones, including larger ones.

Watch the video by clicking here.