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Drone crashes through Darling Harbour window, injuring occupant

written by Adam Thorn | January 28, 2021

A 3.5kg drone smashed through a high-rise window in Sydney’s Darling Harbour on 15 January, injuring one occupant inside.

An initial ATSB investigation has revealed the DJI Inspire 2 was conducting aerial photography 10 metres above ground level before the pilot lost control of the device.

It then flew away at “high speed” before shattering the glass that subsequently hurt an unnamed person inside.

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The drone, operated CASA-licensed business Sky Monkey, was subsequently destroyed. Owner Kelvin Ong told The Australian he was cooperating with the ATSB.

“The ATSB will interview the pilot, obtain and review recorded flight and controller data, and review the operator’s procedures as part of the investigation,” said the organisation.

“A report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation, however, should a critical safety issue be identified the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate action can be taken.”

The incident is one of the most-high profile recorded by the ATSB in recent times.

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It comes after Australian Aviation exclusively revealed last year how the number of ‘near encounters’ between drones and manned aircraft doubled in three years.

Figures released by the ATSB showed there were 194 such occurrences in 2019, up from just 87 in 2016.

The rise in reported cases is likely due to the explosion in drone ownership, with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau now estimating there are at least 50,000, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of remote piloted crafts in Australia.

Between 2010 and the end of 2019, there were 628 so-called near encounters, 538 of which involved planes and 85 helicopters.

Fortunately, only one of that larger number involved what the ATSB term a “serious incident”, which is an occurrence that has a high probability of becoming an accident.

The news was contained in a comprehensive ATSB report looking at all types of accidents over the last decade.

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