back to article Did you almost prang a 737 jet with a drone over Dallas? The FAA would like a word

A small drone caused quite a stir at an airport in Texas when it crossed paths with a passenger jet. A landing Boeing 737 on its one mile approach to the Dallas Love Field airport came within a few hundred feet of the small quad-copter, we're told. The plane did not hit the drone, and was able to safely land without needing to …

  1. Eddy Ito

    And to think folks had dreams of flying cars only to find out they already exist. They're called light sport aircraft here in the US.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Flying *Car* .NE. "light sport aircraft"

      Utter nonsense.

      I'd be more inclined to accept that a float plane is a boat (since it can actually outrun most boats) than that a 'light sport aircraft" can exit the airport and drive down the turnpike into downtown and park outside the Pink Rhinoceros lap dancing club.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Flying *Car* .NE. "light sport aircraft"

        My point was more toward the training requirements that differentiate a driver's license from a flying car "driver's" license. Perhaps when the robot car is in every driveway will the robotic flying car become a real possibility only because the average idiot will think playing with drones will count as "driving" experience for his flying car.

  2. Peter Simpson 1
    Happy

    It's Texas

    They were trying to spot Obama's invading Jade Helm force...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't bother investigating

    ...the perp will shortly post footage of his derring-do on Facebook, and can be nabbed with minimum effort.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't bother investigating

      One can only hope these arse clowns get punishment that will deter this stupidity that endangers many people's lives. I don't think jet engines are going to digest these toys very well without some serious consequences.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Don't bother investigating

        I think you are underestimating the common sense of _some_ of the quad copter community. even after the first fatalities have happened, there will be a phalanx of twats saying 'it couldn't happen to me, i have madd skilzz'

        except of course it won't be happening to them.

      2. Nigel 11

        Re: Don't bother investigating

        I don't think jet engines are going to digest these toys very well without some serious consequences.

        They have to be able to digest a goose without serious consequences (although two simultaneous geese requires a miracle to survive)

        They also have to be able to digest a stone during takeoff (that might be kicked up by the nosewheel). Not sure what size of stone is tested.

        In short, aero engines are pretty tough and well-tested (including confined destruction).

        Which isn't to detract from the message that putting a drone in the air where an airliner might collide with it is criminally stupid and thoughtless.

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: Don't bother investigating

          "They have to be able to digest a goose without serious consequences (although two simultaneous geese requires a miracle to survive)..."

          As far as I know, US Airways 1549 ingested just one goose per engine. I've never seen anything that claimed it was two geese per engine. *

          The birds were larger and heavier than the qualification requirement.

          * edit - except below: "...Airbus that went into the Hudson had multiple bird ingestions into each engine. ..." So I'll guess you're correct. Cheers.

  4. Yugguy

    Gormless twat should be dropped from a drone.

    1. BornToWin

      You don't understand...

      They gotz rights.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: You don't understand...

        Nah, taken to a suitable test rig and made to watch whilst their drone is fed into the engine to show exactly what happens. And then pushed in after it, for being a gormless twat.

  5. Schnoerkelman

    Not to be confused...

    "Love Field (not to be confused with the much larger Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) is a hub serving a few airlines flying regional trips."

    It's not Heathrow but a few regional trips is pushing it a bit...

    The following airlines offer scheduled passenger service.

    Airlines Destinations

    Delta Air Lines Atlanta[60]

    SeaPort Airlines El Dorado (AR)

    Southwest Airlines Albuquerque, Amarillo, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston (begins August 9, 2015), Birmingham (AL), Charleston (SC), Charlotte (begins August 9, 2015), Chicago-Midway, Columbus (OH), Denver, Detroit (begins August 9, 2015), El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Houston-Hobby, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Memphis, Midland/Odessa, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha (begins August 9, 2015), Orange County, Orlando, Panama City (FL), Philadelphia (begins August 9, 2015), Phoenix, Pittsburgh (begins August 9, 2015), Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham (begins August 9, 2015), Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City (begins August 9, 2015), San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa, Tulsa, Washington-National, Wichita

    Virgin America Austin, Los Angeles, New York-LaGuardia, San Francisco, Washington-National

    For the 12-month period ending October 31, 2007, the airport had 247,235 aircraft operations, an average of 677 per day: 39% general aviation, 37% scheduled commercial, 23% air taxi and 1% military. At that time there were 693 aircraft based at this airport: 3% single-engine, 4% multi-engine, 93% jet and 1% helicopter.

    On Monday, December 8, 2014, city officials announced a plan to add 4,000 parking spaces at Love Field, including the proposed construction of a 5-level parking garage across from Ticket Hall. Despite a 2008 forecast predicting that Love Field would have adequate parking to meet demand through 2018, the airport ran out of parking around midday on Thanksgiving, November 27, 2014, forcing arriving travelers to park off-airport and use other means to reach their flights. The parking shortage is expected to worsen in 2015 as the anticipated number of daily departures increases from 148 to 190

  6. x 7

    Must inspire confidence, taking off from an airport named for a chap who died in an aircraft crash

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Inspirational

      Must inspire confidence, taking off from an airport named for a chap who died in an aircraft crash

      As opposed to an airport named after someone who fired the air traffic controllers?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could a drone hurt a 737?

    These drones are pretty fragile. Could it in anyway damage a 737? Certainly it wouldn't be worse than a bird strike?

    1. x 7

      Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

      " it wouldn't be worse than a bird strike?"

      Do you realise how stupid that comment is? A bird - or drone - through the engine on an aircraft on final approach would be a good way to crash it. Committed to land, on the final glidepath and you lose an engine. No chance of recovery, the engines f*cked. It may take out the control surfaces as well and puncture the hydraulics or fuel tank. So you have asymmetric thrust and nothing you can do except steer and hope. You're probably going to barrel in and burn

      Or it could come through a cockpit window, depressurise the aircraft and blind one or both pilots.

      Or it could hit the landing gear, puncture a main tyre and / or f*ck the suspension

      Or even if it wasn't landing, it could damage the nav or weather radar. Or break the pitots which detect airspeed (giving you no idea how fast you are flying)

      I could go on, but it would be boring.

      But please don't think that birdstrikes - or dronestrikes are trivial

      1. Mad Hacker

        Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

        Can't speak of the other items due to lack of experience but I can assure you my DJI Phantom couldn't at any velocity break a cockpit window or puncture a tyre.

        1. Small Furry Animal

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          "Can't speak of the other items due to lack of experience but I can assure you my DJI Phantom couldn't at any velocity break a cockpit window or puncture a tyre."

          But it will severely f*ck an engine.

        2. x 7

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          A mallard duck weighs between 0.72 – 1.6 kg and can easily take out a cockpit window.

          The DJI Phantom 3 is advertised as weighing "1280 g". Easily in the danger range - and being made of hard lumps, not soft flesh and bone, is a lot more of a risk. 1.28kg hitting an aircraft flying at around 200mph is quite an impact - and thats assuming the drone is just hovering

          a couple of photos of what a duck can do to a cockpit

          http://wildlifecenter.pr.erau.edu/pics/show_low1-l.jpg

          http://wildlifecenter.pr.erau.edu/pics/show_low2-l.jpg

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

            I seem to remember the blades on the turbine can be more delicate than you would think with certain stresses like hard impacts.

        3. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          and how many jumbos do you regularly encounter stationary at 500 feet?

          fuckwit

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          "Or it could come through a cockpit window, depressurise the aircraft and blind one or both pilots."

          That implies that either:

          * The cockpit window is open (like some scene from "Airplane"), and it just flies in through the gap. In that case, depressurisation is meaningless since the window is already open.

          * A couple of kilos of quadcopter is able to smash its way through a hugely reinforced plane window, rather than just bounce off.

          In any case "depressurisation" isn't going to happen if the plane is a few hundred feet above the ground on its final approach.

          A more realistic concern is what happens if the aircraft engine ingests the copter. I know that engines are tested for this using frozen chickens fired out of special guns, but the quad copter may be a bit crunchier.

      2. Small Furry Animal

        Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

        @x 7, well said... and $DEITY knows who downvoted you. They were obviously not pilots.

        http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01563/hudsonPlane_1563891c.jpg

        That was the result of birdstrike. It was only the skill of the pilots that ensured there were no deaths

      3. usbac

        Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

        From someone that IS a pilot.

        First of all, the Airbus that went into the Hudson had multiple bird ingestions into each engine. Unless the 737 flew into a "flock" of drones, it would only take out one engine. Even on short final, a 737 is quite capable if performing a go-around on a single engine. There is adequate rudder authority to counter the asymmetrical thrust.

        As to damaging a control surface, that's very unlikely. On short final, with full (or nearly full) flaps and leading edge slats extended, the airflow would likely push the drone away from most of the control surfaces. A bird strike to control surfaces rarely makes an aircraft "uncontrollable".

        Hydraulics are inside the wings and fuselage, and are generally routed through well protected areas when possible. Aircraft designers are not idiots. Again it's extremely rare for a bird to make it deep enough into the wing or fuselage to get to hydraulic lines.

        And lastly, if hitting a light plastic drone can damage a landing gear strut (or tire), I wouldn't try to land 45,000 Lbs of aircraft traveling at 130+ knots on it. The loads on a landing gear at touchdown are massive!

        As for the other items "Or even if it wasn't landing, it could damage the nav or weather radar. Or break the pitots which detect airspeed (giving you no idea how fast you are flying)", if the aircraft isn't landing, what the hell is it doing below 400 feet?

        As a pilot, I'm not defending what this drone operator is doing. There a plenty of things that can kill us pilots, we don't need idiots trying to kill us with their drones!!

        I just thought I should shed a little light on reality, not what someone who plays a little flight sim on their computer thinks...

        1. Small Furry Animal

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          @usbac, Just a little correction. You said "what the hell is it doing below 400 feet?"

          Umm, taking off? I sure as hell would not have liked to be in an engine-out situation at that height and in that position.

          BTW "I just thought I should shed a little light on reality, not what someone who plays a little flight sim on their computer thinks"

          I don't think you know enough about x 7 to know his/her skills. I agree that he/she overstates the case but to accuse him/her of being nothing but a desktop jockey is a little over the top.

          However: "we don't need idiots trying to kill us with their drones!!"

          Abso-bloody-lutely right

        2. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          So i take it you have no objection to losing an engine on takeoff 1/2 a second before v1?

          Please tell me which airline you fly for, so i can pick another.

          (lemmie guess.... drone-air)

        3. Jim 59

          Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

          And lastly, if hitting a light plastic drone can damage a landing gear strut (or tire), I wouldn't try to land 45,000 Lbs of aircraft traveling at 130+ knots on it. The loads on a landing gear at touchdown are massive!

          Almost as massive as the pwnage delivered to x7 by this post.

          Seriously, I saw a video of a passenger jet landing with no front wheel. All it had at the front was the extended strut to which the wheel would normally be attached. The strut remained in place and vertical throughout, plouging along the ground with a plane on top of it. The strength displayed was almost unbelievable, and saved the craft from worse consequences.

    2. Another Anonymous Dutch Coward

      Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

      As a responcible drone pilot myself ( DJI f450 / F550 ) Yes they most certainly can cause some damage. Most of us fly with lipo packs which tend to become unstable when punctured and can explode not to mention that the engines are made out of metal and could cause damage to the blades of a turbine engine. Simply said the guy was an idiot for flying in restricted airspace. Rule of thumb is: Don't fly over people, don't fly over roads, don't fly over buildings, and don't fly in restricted airspace of any kind.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

      What's going to happen when the turbine shreds the battery pack, ads fuel and ignites the resulting mixture. The plastic alone will try to literally gum up the work. Touchy as hell these turbines, especially in a restricted power regime.

    4. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

      load of commentards on the wrong tack here, coming into land you have speed and altitude, these can be traded off against one another to quite a large degree.

      taking off, howeveryou have none of either to spare, a much more dangerous situation, with way fewer options.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freaking lasers*

    So as i see it, either drones get obligatory AI to ensure they don't go into FAA airspace (or equivalent elsewhere in the world) or boing and aircoach get to put "freakin lasers" on their planes with AI to zap drones.

    I personally want the second one... just because it would be cool to see, especially if they beamed it to that nav-map they usually show on flights.

    * not on sharks, but hey, lasers are cool on their own though right?

    Oh and to address some of the "could a swallow carry a coconut" questions above, i seem to remember an experiment in the UK when they were testing if a chicken could smash the window of a fast moving train.... the answer came out yes everytime since they used frozen chickens in the tests.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Freaking lasers*

      boing

      hee hee

      (sorry)

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: Freaking lasers*

      Drone firmware should be aware of no-fly zones. IIRC they pushed an update to avoid drones being able to fly over the White House after that recent White House landing incident.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Freaking lasers*

        >Drone firmware should be aware of no-fly zones.

        A lot of us multirotor fliers have a single chip integrated gyro/accelerometer and that's it. How do you imagine that your fancy drone firmware would know where it is?

    3. Doogs

      Re: Freaking lasers*

      "frozen chickens"...

      http://www.snopes.com/science/cannon.asp

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Turtle

    Various Intentions.

    "Given the popularity of drones amongst amateur videographers and the ease with which they can be operated, many owners are taking to the skies without first learning FAA rules on where they can and cannot fly."

    Good. But maybe there will be people graduating from laser pointers to drones. I.e. what is the FAA going to do when people start flying these drones with malicious intent, hoping to perhaps cause an accident. (Which by the way could be done not only at airports but on any highway: imagine driving along at 30,.40, 50, or more miles per hour and having a drone collide with your windshield. Imagine how most people would react. Not a pretty sight, right?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Imagine a dangerous situation and put the word drone in there. OMG! WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDRENS!

      >start flying these drones with malicious intent, hoping to perhaps cause an accident.

      OH NOES! BAN THEM RIGHT NOW!!!?!!11

      >imagine driving along at 30,.40, 50, or more miles per hour and having a drone collide

      > with your windshield.

      Imagine someone throwing a rock from a bridge over the highway onto a car!!>!>>!! BAN BRIDGES NOW! IMAGINE A CAR HITTING ANOTHER CAR!! OR HITTING A BAG FULL OF KITTENS!!! BAN CARS!!

      1. craigb

        BAN ALL KITTENS!!!!

    2. Spiracle

      Re: Various Intentions.

      The plucky Brits can shoot them down already (cue 'Theme from 633 Squadron')

      1. madick

        Re: Various Intentions.

        The Blighter AUDS Anti-UAV Defence System (from your link) appears to be able to "disrupt" the radio control system of these drones but doesn't actually shoot them down.

        There's a nice video of this system available here:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8aZ0zWX3SA

        What I find surprising is, given this incident happened in Texas, no one tried to blast it out of the sky with an Ar-15.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fox News Headline

    "ISIS Forces attack passenger jets over Dallas. Obama top blame"

    Well, it could have been ISIS......

  11. Dana W

    These are the kind of idiots who ruin it for everybody else. The drone hobby is really big right now.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is drone flying the new train spotting for anoraks?

    ...runs away...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is drone flying the new train spotting for anoraks?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MBW8zoZUR4

  13. SecretSonOfHG

    We're an idiot away from a complete drone ban

    I said it before, and say it again. It only takes a single imbecile to fatally crash a plane and all these nice toys will be banned and considered terrorist weapons. The sad part is that the immense majority of drone owners are responsible and careful with where and how they fly them.

    But the few idiots -and the laser pointer analogy above is perfect- won't stop trying until they do it. It will make big news, the culprit will be found, arrested, charged and his life destroyed by the consequences of his/her acts. Not a bad punishment considering the dead passengers his drone will leave behind.

    But we'll also lose our nice toys.

  14. x 7

    for all those who persist in saying a drone can't cause problems, take a look at these videos

    first one shows a crow-sized bird destroying an engine on a 767 at takeoff. Thats about the same size as one of these drones - and a lot safer

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KhZwsYtNDE

    the second one shows a bird taking out the windscreen in a Cessna - ok, agreed a much smaller aircraft

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlDWCDnXZ2k

    this third one has a compilation of photos post-strike and gives an idea of what can happen

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=851y6F79Qtk

    1. usbac

      Funny, x 7 just proved my point. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KhZwsYtNDE)

      If you believe Naughtyhorse, that plane should have fallen out of the sky and exploded! Strange how it just kept climbing. Almost like the aircraft designers planned it that way?

      A bird strike to a cessna windscreen is a very bad thing. I've seen it first hand. When you fly light aircraft, you are very aware of this fact. Fortunately, with single engine aircraft, the prop usually gets the bird before it comes through the windscreen. Not so with twins.

      Large jet aircraft have much stronger windscreens than light aircraft. They will usually take a bird strike without complete failure of the windscreen (maybe a little cracking).

      Way back when I was learning to fly, we hit a Red-Tail Hawk on short final. Luckily for us, the bird hit the wing at about it's midpoint. The impact actually caused the plane to yaw hard to the right. It caused some damage to the plane, but it was still flyable. If it had hit the windscreen, I wouldn't be writing this.

  15. x 7

    this is interesting. BAe Hawk ingests a bird at takeoff, after which the aircraft is only going one way.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2zB7Z-b6Kc

  16. Turtle

    Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

    " 'it wouldn't be worse than a bird strike?' Do you realise how stupid that comment is? " - @x 7

    "@x 7, well said... and $DEITY knows who downvoted you. They were obviously not pilots." - Small Furry Animal

    Well the original question was probably not asked by a pilot, which kinda makes it not such a stupid question. Although not my question (because I know that Israel may have lost more fighters to bird strikes than to Arabs) I nonetheless thought that the question was perfectly valid. (Even leaving aside the vastly different characteristics of a soft body like a bird compared to a relatively hard and brittle body like a drone.)

    The snide reaction to the question well deserved a downvote. Even a pilot could downvote an answer like that.

    1. x 7

      Re: Could a drone hurt a 737?

      @turtle

      It doesn't take a pilot - or a genius - to know how catastrophic a bird strike can be. The risks are self-evident, or at least should be to anyone with at least a half-functioning brain. I take it that you don't fit into that category. The fact its taken you three months to respond since the last post suggests that maybe you're not the worlds most intellectually gifted person and have to read really s l o o o o w l y.

      I stand by everything I said - the person who posed the question was an idiot. Are you related?

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