DJI challenges drone plane collision test, accuses researchers of 'sowing fear'
DJI has challenged a recently published video that demonstrates a small drone smashing into an airplane wing. The test collision was conducted in a simulated environment by researchers with the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) to assess the potential damage such an in-air crash may cause. DJI has accused the test of being "unbalanced, agenda-driven research."
In a letter sent to UDRI's group leader for impact physics Kevin Poorman, DJI alleges UDRI's "Risk in the Sky?" video (below) and related materials present a "collision scenario between a drone and an airplane wing that is simply inconceivable in real life."
The test collision involved a 952g / 2.1lbs DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter being launched at the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft. In a blog post about the research, UDRI researchers said the test was intended to "mimic a midair collision of a drone and a commercial transport aircraft at 238 miles per hour..."
DJI has taken issue with that claim, saying the test assumes the Mooney M20 would be flying at its max 200mph / 321kph speed, and that the drone would "apparently" be exceeding its max 33.5mph / 53.9kph speed. "At the altitudes where that plane would conceivably encounter a Phantom drone," DJI claims, "it would fly less than half as fast - generating less than one-fourth of the collision energy."
DJI also states:
Your video was created contrary to established U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) crash test parameters, which assume a bird striking an airplane at its sea-level cruising speed —which is typically 161 mph to 184mph for Mooney M20. Your video deliberately created a more damaging scenario, and was widely cited as evidence for what could happen to a large commercial jet —even though the Mooney M20 is a small plane with four seats.
The Chinese drone company has likewise taken issue with the test as a whole, accusing it of having not been "created as part of a legitimate scientific query, with little description of your testing methodology and no disclosure of data generated during the test." The company accuses the researchers of having a "bias toward sowing fear," claiming they would have otherwise also shared a video of a simulated bird-plane strike that caused "more apparent damage."
DJI's letter demands UDRI "remove the alarmist video," withdraw the research, and "issue a corrective statement" that proclaims the test to be "invalid."
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