Two drone close calls for Vanderbilt UMC prompts concern

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Kevin Nooner, Director of Air Medical Transport at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has issued a call for drone operators to act more responsibly, after the organisation’s medical helicopter had two close encounters with UAVs recently, one of which delayed take off to a patient. Nooner said: “The concern we have with the drone is actual damage to the aircraft. Whether we have a little bit of damage, or depending where it hits, we could lose control of the aircraft and crash.” He added: “We cannot see the aircraft on any type of radar system we have, so we rely on our crews and their training to spot these. A lot of drones are about 12 inches square that weigh about three pounds and travel up to 45 mph so seeing those can be a real challenge for our crews.”

The first of the two incidents occurred in November last year, when the Vanderbilt LifeFlight helicopter was about to take off from the hospital roof. Fortunately, the pilot saw a drone rising just above the rooftop and aborted take off until the drone had gone – the helicopter had been responding to a 911 call to attend an emergency. On New Year’s Day, another close call occurred in flight.

Police helicopter has close call in NZ

Meanwhile in New Zealand, staff onboard an Auckland Police helicopter were forced to take evasive action when the pilot spotted a drone just 10 m from the aircraft. Inspector Jim Wilson, acting district commander for Auckland City, said: “The actions of these people in flying a drone dangerously close to the Eagle helicopter is totally irresponsible and Police will investigate thoroughly. This could easily have ended in a tragedy and it is a worrying reminder of the dangers of flying drones near other aircraft.”

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