A remotely-piloted aircraft collided with a US Army UH-60M Black Hawk while it was flying at 500ft over a residential neighbourhood on Staten Island, New York on September 23.
Believed to be the first time a drone has collided with a helicopter in flight, the incident happened at about 1930 local time while two Black Hawks, from the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were on a security mission for the United Nations General Assembly above the Midland Beach section of the island.
The US Army confirmed the drone struck the left side of fuselage just behind the co-pilot’s door with debris from the disintegrated drone striking one of the Black Hawk’s four main rotor blades causing minor damage.
The Black Hawk made a normal approach and landing at the nearby Linden Airport in New Jersey.
“There were no adverse impacts to the flight,” said 82nd Airborne Division spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino.
“One blade was dented in two spots and requires replacement and there is a dented window.”
A piece of the drone was found to be lodged in the oil cooler at the bottom of the helicopter’s main rotor system. An image of the collected debris suggests the drone was a DJI Phantom.
Although New York City bans drones from flying in most locations, those registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are permitted to fly above just a handful of New York’s city parks.
The US Army, New York Police Department and the FAA are investigating the incident.