Army Confirms Black Hawk, Drone Collided Over New York City

 - September 25, 2017, 1:29 PM
The drone strike caused minor but visible damage to a rotor blade and window on the Blackhawk. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army confirmed that one of its helicopters collided with a small drone in domestic airspace on September 21 in what the service described as the first such incident. The Army is now reviewing its procedures for missions like the security flight it provided for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City, where the collision happened.

While flying over Staten Island at 500 feet at 7:30 p.m., an Army UH-60M Black Hawk assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division collided with what appeared to be a “civilian quadcopter,” said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, public affairs officer for the division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The collision caused “minor” visible damage to a main rotor blade and a window on the upper left-hand side of the helicopter, which landed safely at Linden Airport in New Jersey.

Four crew were flying in the helicopter, one of two Army Black Hawks providing security for the annual General Assembly session, which drew world leaders including President Donald Trump to New York City. As a precautionary measure, the Army replaced the affected rotor blade and returned the helicopter to service within 24 hours, Buccino said.

The FAA confirmed that it was assisting with the investigation of the incident, but said the U.S. Secret Service was the lead agency for media inquiries. The latter agency referred questions to the New York field office of the FBI, which said it was assisting the Army's investigation. The New York Police Department said it was also cooperating with the investigation, but it referred questions to the FAA and the military.

Buccino said the Army is rethinking its procedures for domestic missions over populated areas. “We traditionally fly [in] restricted airspace or in combat, so this is a new experience,” he said. “We were obviously flying over a residential area—a municipal area—supporting this mission. We are reviewing the process now should we receive another mission like this.”

Staten Island was in fact covered by a Temporary Flight Restriction at the time of the collision on September 21, which disallows civil drone-flying activity. FAA safety guidelines also call for keeping recreational drones below 400 feet and beyond five miles of an airport or heliport. Although the Army reported the drone was flying above 400 feet, the location of the collision over the eastern shore of Staten Island is not within five miles of either Newark Liberty International or Linden airports.


I'd really like to know why a civilian was able to gather and handle evidence after this alleged collision and then have his friends post photos of him on Facebook well before this ever hit the news. Also, why are there exactly zero comms about the incident over VHF or UHF during this time frame (under the TFR)? Oh, and the three individuals who are pushing this over social media hard and deleting any information questioning the incident are all commercial helicopter pilots who have openly stated that something "must be done" about all these drones in the sky prior to the alleged incident. There are no public FAA or NTSB reports available several days later of this supposed aircraft collision and it still hasn't hit the national news with any ferocity yet. If you're wondering why I'm such a skeptic, just take a look at the last three years of consumer drone collision reports and you'll find that ALL 8 of them were proven to be 100% completely false - some being intentionally contrived. A collision is bound to happen between a consumer drone and a manned aircraft but I'm just not buying this story as told. A U.S. Army Black Hawk is struck by a DJI Phantom 4 "drone" during a temporary flight restriction and a civilian has bagged up parts from the drone into a crumpled old ziplock bag and handwritten the work "EVIDENCE" on it with a black marker and posts photos all over Facebook? Come on now.