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Yorkshire Air Ambulance in near miss with drone

Yorkshire Air Ambulance in near miss with drone

Published by Harry Long at 4:35pm 12th September 2019. (Updated at 4:41pm 12th September 2019)

A Yorkshire Air Ambulance helicopter has been involved in a near miss with a drone, which the charity say could have had devastating consequences.

  • A Yorkshire Air Ambulance has been involved in a near miss with a drone. 
  • It happened yesterday evening. 
  • The helicopter was returning to base in Wakefield at the time.  

The helicopter came within three metres of the drone, which was being flown at significantly above the legal maximum height.

It happened at around 6.50pm last night, as the crew of HM98 (G-YAAC) were returning to base in Wakefield.

The helicopter was flying at around 1,300 ft at the time, meaning the drone was being flown at more than three times the legal maximum height of 400 ft.

Steve Waudby, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance's Chief Pilot, said:

“We cannot stress enough the seriousness of what happened last night to the crew of HM98.  It was only due to the vigilance of our front seat paramedic spotting the drone, and the rapid reaction of our Pilot that the crew avoided a direct collision.  It is estimated that they missed the drone by less than 3 meters in the end.  The consequences don’t bear thinking about if a direct strike had occurred.  We’d be telling a very different story today if it had."  

Ironically, earlier yesterday the same helicopter had been filmed by the Civil Aviation Authority for a drone safety video. 

Steve said: 

"The most ironic thing about all of this is that we spent most of yesterday working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over at Nostell to help them create a new ‘Drone Awareness’ short film to help highlight the dangers & issues of operating drones, and to make users more aware of aircraft operators like us and the Police.  Whoever was operating this drone was doing so at an illegal height – the maximum height it should have been operating at was 120m or 400ft, so as you can see, this drone was flying over 3 times the height it should have been at.  Whether the operator is aware or not, they have put the lives of our crew in extreme danger.  I would appeal to the operator to please come forward and identify themselves – we have a very clear description of what the drone looked like and it was very, very distinctive.  The police have been made aware, as well as the CAA and the AAIB have also been notified.  Again, I cannot stress the seriousness of what has happened.”

Peter Sunderland, Chairman of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said:

“Firstly I would like to pay tribute to our Pilot – his prompt and professional actions avoided the most unthinkable disaster.  We are proud to have a team of highly skilled, ex-military Pilots as part of our team, and last night’s incident just goes to highlight how important these professional Pilots are to the Charity.  Also to the two paramedics and Doctor who were on board – all of their intense training over the years came to fruition last night and I am proud of how they handled this incident.  The crew are obviously shaken from what happened and we will be supporting them in any way we can.”

A CAA spokesperson said:

“It is against the law to fly a drone above 400ft (120m) or close to airports without permission and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including up to five years in prison. Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations. The rules for flying drones are designed to keep all airspace users safe.   The CAA’s Dronecode provides advice on how to fly your drone safely and follow the rules. You can access it at www.dronesafe.uk