DEKRA’s Crash Tests with Drones: High Risk of Accident

There is a high risk of accident with drones when the small, guided flyers get out of control. This is the result of a test series of DEKRA’s experts performed with drones with a weight less than 2 kg, which can be driven without any special qualification in Germany.

Drone crash: Also small drones that can be operated in Germany without any special qualification, involve high risks. Picture: DEKRA

The most important facts at a glance:

  • Collisions with cars or dummies made part of the test scenario
  • Special liability insurance is needed
  • Experts recommend training for drone pilots

In Germany, drones with a weight of less the 2kg, can be operated without any special qualification. DEKRA recommends that the operators should take a training to learn about the risks of the small flyer as well as about the complex regulations on this subject.

During a collision of a 1.3 kg drone with a child pedestrian dummy, one propeller blade broke off and caused a deep cut on the hand of the dummy. “The modern flyers are often equipped with very strong motors and propeller blades made from carbon or plastic. In case of a collision with people, they can cause serious injuries,” says aviation expert Stefan Schneider of DEKRA Aviation.

Out of control after the crash

On 1.8 kg drone got completely out of control after a collision with a car at a speed of 65 km/h. The flying object hit the windscreen and then flew –in damaged condition- up to 40 to 50m and was no longer controllable. After the motors could be stopped manually, the drone dropped vertically to the ground. It could have hurt people seriously, if they would have been standing in this area.

The testing also showed that apart from the damages, the collision with the windscreen might also suffer lead to a shock moment of the driver, increasing the risk of secondary accidents.

“With approximately 400,000 drones in Germany, with strong growth, we have to assume that the risk potential is further increasing,” warns Schneider.

“Unpack & fly is a NoGo”

“I strongly recommend not to just unpack the newly bought drone and fly it in front of your house”, says the aviation expert, who also trains copter pilots since 2015. “If you want to avoid accidents and have fun with drones your first start should be well-prepared. Many private users don’t know that they need to respect a lot of provisions and obligations. Especially conflicts with air traffic have to be avoided.

The new regulation on drones at a glance. Clear behavioural rules and no-fly areas. Picture: BMVI

If you violate the regulations on air traffic control, you are liable to prosecution due to dangerous interference in air traffic and liable for possible damage. From January to October 2016, the German air traffic control (DFS) registered 61 cases on international airports in Germany where drones hampered the regular air traffic.

Highly recommended: check your insurance cover

DEKRA highly recommends checking your insurance cover. Independently of weight, all users of drones are obligated to take out a special insurance (aviation and general liability). In general, damages caused by drones are not covered by the personal liability insurance. Without a special policy, the hobby pilot is liable to the full extent. But also in case of having a drone policy, the user has to abide by the regulations and respect restricted areas, flight altitude, contact flight rules as well as the privacy sphere of others. In case of infringement, the insurance cover might be partially or completely obsolete.

Training of drone pilots is recommended

“Because of the great amount rules and the high risk potential, we highly recommend drone users to participate at a professional training. It’s about nothing less than the security in the air and on the ground”, emphasizes Schneider. “With a professional qualification, the user is on the safe side. He knows the regulations and is able to better assess the risks of drone flights.”

Tipps from DEKRA:
What drone pilots have to pay attention to:

  • Get familiar with the flying machine, take not of the information provided by the manufacturer
  • Get a special liability insurance for drones
  • Respect flight bans (crowds, residential areas, airports etc.)
  • in controlled airspace, the maximum flight altitude should be 30 metres
  • Keep a safety distance to streets, do not irritate drivers
  • Keep an eye on the weather and air traffic in the airspace constantly
  • Respect the absolute priority of aircrafts
  • Always keep visual contact with the drone
  • Never operate a drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Children and teenagers need the supervision by adults
  • Taking pictures or filming is only allowed with the consent of the person depicted

Read more: Hoverboards: not allowed for street traffic

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