Friday, August 14, 2015
Drone Operating Outside FAA Guidelines Narrowly Misses Helicopter
An air ambulance helicopter took evasive action Wednesday during a near mid-air collision with a drone operating outside published FAA guidelines. The SkyLife helicopter, a Bell 407 owned by American Ambulance and Rogers Helicopters, was carrying a patient to the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif. when it encountered the unmanned aircraft, making a controlled turn to avoid collision. The helicopter was approximately 2 miles north of Fresno Yosemite International Airport, flying at approximately 1,000 ft agl. A flight nurse aboard the aircraft reported that the drone appeared to be between 4 and 6 feet long and passed within 15 to 20 feet of the helicopter. This incident occurred one day before an FAA press release warning that operating drones outside current safety guidelines can result in potential fines or jail. Those guidelines include staying below 400 ft agl, giving advance notice before operating within 5 miles of an airport and giving way to manned aircraft.