University of Dayton Research Institute impact tests prove large aircraft won’t always win in collision with small drones.
When a large military helicopter collided midair with a small quadcopter last year, the helicopter sustained only minor damage and returned safely home; the drone was destroyed. But tests performed at the University of Dayton Research Institute show that bigger may not always be better in contests between manned aircraft and even small UAVs.
In a test designed to mimic a midair collision at 238 miles per hour, researchers in UDRI’s Impact Physics group launched a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter at the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft. The drone did not shatter on impact, but tore open the leading edge of the wing as it bore into the structure, damaging its main spar. “While the quadcopter broke apart, its energy and mass hung together to create significant damage to the wing,” said Kevin Poormon, group leader for impact physics at UDRI.