Why Drones Hitting Aircraft Landing Doesnt Matter

Mass of an A380 at landing 560,000kg

Speed at landing  140 knots (72 ms)

Momentum=40,320,000 Newton seconds

Mass of a Parrot Bebop Drone  0.4kg

Speed  50 kph (14 ms)

Momentum=5.6 Newton Seconds

So the A380 strikes the drone at 7.2 million times more force, the drone hitting with about 1/4 the impact of a real parrot.

I doubt the A380 comes off worse, or even has more than the faintest scratch.



4 thoughts on “Why Drones Hitting Aircraft Landing Doesnt Matter

  1. The relevant analysis is that of a drone colliding with the aircraft engines’ turbine blades. I fear that it may be much less favourable to the jet. JM

    • Andrew, you are clearly a very clever bloke and know a lot about planning and economics and something about the maths involved. However, to suggest that such bits of kit coming into contact with an aircraft full of people, at one of the most hazardous points of its transit is nonsensicle and shows a clear lack of appreciation of the implications of even the smallest item striking an aircraft and a critical moment. Had this drone entered the engine and the aircraft then suffered a problem on the other engine, such as a bird strike, the story could be very different. I doubt anybody would have thought a small strip of metal on a runway in Paris could have destroyed a Concorde until it happened.

  2. Roger this article was based at a discussion with a CAA official (country witheld). If aircraft were as vulnerable as you suggest there would be many more accidents as airstrikes with birds of this mass happen every day and you dont read it in the news. Indeed large aircraft are designed to withstand strikes of this force for this reason.

    • Andrew, I’ll defer to the experts when it comes to the theory and the very narrow example used. However, having spent some 38 years in the RAF and seen my fair share of impact damage, theory seldom survives reality, when the ‘parrot’ refuses to hit the least vulnerable bit of the aircraft.
      Too many drones are becoming available, that exceed the specs used in the example and if such a view becomes widely publicised, the idiots that do fly these things illegally will just take it as a green light to continue.
      It also opens up the potential for much smaller aircraft and in particular my specialism, helicopters, to the threat.
      Helicopters fly at around 140 knots or less in the case of most air ambulances and are far less forgiving than any A380, so please ask this expert not not make his or her views made to a wider audience and certainly not those who buy and fly these drones.

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