U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter Avoids Collision With Drone in Port Angeles

According to a news release from the United States Coast Guard, an aircrew was 300 feet in the air conducting training when they had a near-miss collision with a recreational drone. The incident occurred on Saturday, March 17, 2018, in the vicinity of Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles.

The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles was conducting low-level training near the airport when the crew maneuvered to miss what they thought was a bird. The object ended up being identified as a drone, and the aircrew estimated the near miss at only 50 feet.

The U.S. Coast Guard would like to remind drone operators that they must provide advanced notification to airports or airport traffic control, prior to flying drones within five miles of an airport. Operators must also yield right of way to manned aircraft and keep their drones in line of site at all times.

Fairchild International Airport did confirm that the drone had not been authorized or requested by the operator to fly within the five-mile radius, as is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Lt. Cmdr. Brent Schmadeke, operations officer at Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, had this to say of the incident:

Drone operators who are unaware or complacent of existing FAA regulations pose a significant safety threat to aircrews and risk serious damage to the aircraft. With the increasing popularity of commercial model aircraft, we strongly encourage operators to familiarize themselves with operating standards set forth by the FAA.

There are different FAA drone regulations between commercial use and recreational use, but all owners must be aware of those regulations prior to operating their drones. The FAA has provided model aircraft operating standards, contained within the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

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