Transport Canada announced last week that a small plane, a Cessna 172 on a training flight, collided with a drone while on short final to Buttonville airport, a popular general aviation airport just north of Toronto. In this case, the irresponsible drone operator appears to be the local police, who admitted that it had been operating a drone in the vicinity of the airport, though there’s no indication that they had gotten permission to do so or were in contact with the Buttonville control tower as required by Canadian law.
The 172 sustained substantial damage from the hit but was able to land safely. The certified flight instructor and the student pilot were on short final at Buttonville when they heard and felt a substantial impact. Naturally, the instructor assumed it had been a bird strike, but it hadn’t been. After landing and examining the damage, and after finding no indication of blood or feathers, it was immediately suspected that it had been a drone that the flight had hit. And a good sized one, at that.
Pilots in the area are understandably up in arms over what appears to have been an unapproved and uncommunicated use of a drone within the airport traffic area. Observers are asking about what this means in terms of the police department’s operating procedures and educational and training policies in place for operators of drones.
It is, without doubt, a good question to ask of any governmental entity that operates drones, especially in vicinity of an airport.