Transport Canada Reports First Collision of Drone, Airplane

 - October 15, 2017, 9:22 PM
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board released a photo of quadcopter arm from Sept. 21 incident. (Photo: NTSB)

A drone struck a Skyjet airplane approaching a Québec City airport on October 12, marking the first such collision between a drone and a commercial aircraft in Canada, according to regulatory agency Transport Canada.

The Skyjet airplane—a Beechcraft King Air 100, according to flight tracking site FlightAware—sustained minor damage after it was struck by a drone while inbound to Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. The twin turboprop was carrying eight passengers on a flight from Rouyn-Noranda Airport in Quebec, according to media reports.

“This is the first time a drone has hit a commercial aircraft in Canada and I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely,” Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced on October 15. The transport agency was in contact with Skyjet, the airport, air navigation service provider Nav Canada and Québec City police, he said.

Based at the Québec City airport, Skyjet Aviation is a charter operator that reports a fleet of 12 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900 D turboprops and smaller King Air 100 and 200s.

In another recent first, a drone struck a U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk while it flew over Staten Island, New York, on September 21, damaging the helicopter’s main rotor blade, window frame and transmission deck. A motor and arm from the DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter were recovered from the helicopter, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident.

In March, Transport Canada announced an interim rule that prohibits flying small drones for recreation within 5.5 km (3.4 miles) of an airport and within 1.8 km (1.1 mile) of a heliport. Violators could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison, the agency said.

“Although the vast majority of drone operators fly responsibly, it was our concern for incidents like this that prompted me to take action and issue interim safety measures restricting where recreational drones could be flown,” Garneau stated. “I would like to remind drone operators that endangering the safety of an aircraft is extremely dangerous and a serious offense.”

Transport Canada reported receiving 1,596 drone incident reports to date this year, of which 131 “are deemed to have been of aviation safety concern,” the agency said