Drones to be crashed into passenger jets in mid-air, on purpose

Drones are to be crashed into passenger jets in mid-air, on purpose, as part of an investigation into the dangers poised by unmanned aircraft to larger manned airplanes in the UK.

The crazy-sounding test has been commissioned by the UK government's Department of Transport, which has pledged £250,000 to the cause following a series of near misses with passenger jets around major UK airports.

The drones will be deliberately crashed into the windows and fuselage of passenger jets in flight, according to the Daily Mail's sources, overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority which aims to investigate pilot's fears that drones pose a significant risk to aircraft.

Tears dry on their drone

"We are conducting mid-air collision studies for the CAA to look at impact of aircraft with unmanned vehicles," said Dr Pete Downer, working with the Ministry of Defence on the crash tests.

"There is a series of trials about the security risks and we need to continue this with a commercial study. There will be further studies of mid-air collisions of drone impact with fuselage and windows."

The tests will be run by defence technology company QinetiQ, which has access to a huge swathe of restricted airspace in Snowdonia. So no need to worry about the trial causing any air accidents in populated areas.

Current legislation requires drones fly no higher than 122m, and away from aircraft and airports. But that still hasn't prevented a string of near misses - with one wayward drone narrowly avoiding a collision with a flight carrying 62 people coming in to land at Newquay Airport this summer.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.