The finding ranked the near-miss as an A category encounter – ‘a definite risk of collision had existed’. The UK Airprox Board delivered its findings on the 29 March incident based on an eyewitness account.
A doctor at the London Royal Hospital who was standing on the rooftop heliport reported seeing a drone meet the incoming air ambulance, coming within several yards of the helicopter. The medic said that while the helicopter circled awaiting the departure of another air ambulance, the drone ‘orbited with them for a quarter turn’ and then ‘departed towards the south-east’.
Drone encounters are rising
Despite those potential sanctions, cases of drone encounters have become more common. More than 400 incidents have been reported in the last five years alone, though many are ultimately deemed to have presented little risk of collision.
However, even close calls can be unsettling. In February, another helicopter ambulance came within 100 feet of two drones as it flew at an altitude of 1,200 feet.
Meanwhile, drones can also be helpful to emergency medical teams. Danish air ambulance service Falck, for example, will make manned drones an integral part of its fire and emergency medical services.