NEWS: UK Government to Crash Test Drones

This instalment of drone news takes a look at the UK government's crash tests, a USPS drone delivery survey & how SUAs helped during Hurricane Matthew.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2021

3 minute read

CrashTestNewsBanner Another week, another drone news update from Heliguy. This instalment covers the drone collision testing being carried out by the UK government, an interesting survey from the United States Postal Service (USPS) and also more philanthropic uses for unmanned aircraft in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.


Due to concerns being raised after a number of so-called ‘near misses’ between drones and airliners, the UK government has decided to carry out a series of test crashes to investigate how dangerous a mid-air collision could be. The tests were initially reported by The Daily Mail as taking place in aerial scenarios with commercial planes which, we can confirm isn’t the case at all. Funded by the UK’s Department for Transport, and undertaken by contracting firm Qinetiq, the tests will involve military aircraft at ground level to examine the potential for damage to a plane’s fuselage. Understandably, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will also be on hand to provide technical support. Speaking to the media at the beginning of the week they had this to say:
"The testing of potential collision impacts between a drone and a fixed wing aircraft is currently being carried out on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence." "The findings of this research is expected to be published when completed."
According to further information we've tracked down online, the results of these tests should be available to the public before the end of 2016. Following on from their controversial regulation proposals, EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) have also weighed in on the issue of mid-air collisions with a report stating that:
If the incident occurred at below 10,000ft between an airliner and a drone that weighs less than 1.5kg, any damage would be minimal. There would be no fatalities, with only minor injuries to passengers and crew.
While they do concede that further tests are required, it’s interesting that they have fielded such a confident stance on the matter. We’ll keep our readers up to date when the findings of this study have been published.


USPS has recently carried out an interesting survey which captures public opinions of drones on a national scale. While obviously focusing more on the future of delivery via SUAs, there is some good data which provides an insight into how commercial drones are perceived. Here are the key findings: NewsGraphicUSPS   See below for additional stats collated from the survey.
  • 75% of American’s expect widespread drone delivery by 2021
  • 44% are happy with the prospect of drone delivery while 34% aren’t convinced
  • 32% believe that drone delivery would be safe whereas 37% do not
  • 52% are worried about the potential for ‘intentional misuse’
  • 78% of respondents were concerned about the possibility of a malfunction
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon emerged as the most trusted brand to launch drone delivery
  • Interestingly 51% of urban respondents were positive about drone delivery compared to 37% in rural communities suggested a familiarity with the tech may lead to greater acceptance
While there are still some concerns about the usage of drones for commercial purposes, it’s clear from the USPS survey that attitudes are beginning to swing in favour towards the growing use of unmanned aircraft.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, a number of companies and rescue crews are turning to drones to aid the relief effort. Verizon used unmanned aircraft to check cellular sites to mitigate damage and ensure connectivity. Once issues were identified, the telecoms company was able to send in a boat of technicians to restore service to those who desperately needed it. This approach reduced the time it would have taken to send multiple teams to diagnose a problem and streamlined the operation. nasaglobalhawk NASA's GlobalHawk was used to monitor Hurricane Matthew Multiple insurance companies including Allstate and Travelers have also used drones to assess property damage. This removed the necessity of sending people scrambling over rooftops in dangerous conditions and provided high-quality imagery from which to compile reports. There was also an opportunity for scientific progress in all the chaos, NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were able to fly drones into and around the hurricane to collect useful meteorological data. Drones were also used to directly save lives. When an SUA pilot tweeted footage of the many North Carolina homes which were flooded, another user responded to say his brother and dog were trapped in one of the houses shown in the video. With this information, the pilot was able to use his drone to direct emergency services to the house where they successfully rescued those trapped inside.

Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider blog for more of the latest news from the drone industry.  

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