Accident investigation: Not enough regulations for drones

Otkes investigated a near miss between a Rescue Department drone and an Air Force LearJet in the skies above Valkeakoski.

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Graphic showing jet and drone near miss / Credit: Otkes

The Accident Investigation Board Otkes has issued its findings on a near miss incident between an Air Force Learjet and a drone, in the skies above Valkeakoski.

The incident happened in February last year when the jet flew 10 meters below the drone.

Tampere-Pirkkala air traffic control only got notification from the Pirkanmaa Rescue Service that they would be operating a drone in the area when the Learjet has already taken off on a refresher flight that included low-flying skills.

The information wasn’t passed on to the air traffic controller in time, and the Learjet never received a warning about the drone’s operations.

Now Otkes says they want to see some changes in the rules about operating drones.

“Unmanned aerial vehicle use has grown rapidly. However, there is a lack of uniform procedures in Finland for handling unannounced aeronautical notifications and providing unmanned aeronautical flight information services” says Professor Veli-Pekka Nurmi from Otkes.

The Accident Investigation board wants stricter rules and better communications procedures in place when drones are being operated in an area where there are other aircraft.

They also want to see the DroneInfo website tightened up with a way to give advance notification of flights; and better cooperation between the military, local authorities and rescue departments which operate their own drones and other service providers.