In the article it says the pilot didn’t realise the aircraft had lost GPS and had reverted to manual flight.
I expect it dropped into ‘Attitude mode’ which is clearly voiced by the system whenever it does so; which would have given him ample time to recover the aircraft and fly it home.
Why didn’t the pilot simply fly it back manually? Is it possible that he wasn’t competent to do so because of lack of practice?
GPS is a huge ‘nurse maid’ for starting to learn the operation of a multi rotor UAV but doesn’t teach how to fly.
It’s best to set time aside, time for those calm evenings to practice ‘Atti Mode’ then progress to ‘Sports Mode’ as your skill and confidence grows.
‘Pain could be just around the corner’
That seriously annoying voice that encourages one to mute the damned thing, you mean?
Yes, and mine is set to full volume as I’m getting a bit deaf as I get older…
So no all that clearly voiced by the system?
(Note to self: Add “Check the volume on SMART device” to pre-flight procedure!)
I keep calling myself a self righteous prick at the moment, because as a PfCO holder I believe it’s our responsibility to keep our skills up to speed (and I do). Yes we all could have a complete loss of signal with gps errors, but in this case they still had control signal, so abandon the flight especially when the drone goes left when it should go straight on. And manually fly back. It’s the flick of a switch to take back control from an automated mission.
By the time that the pilot and observer realised that it was not responding to the return-to-home (RTH) function, visual line of sight was lost […] they had not, nor were required to have, practised for emergencies since completing their flying training in 2018
Technical issues aside… reading between the lines a little, it doesn’t look great for the pilot or observer. Seems to roughly translate as:
Having fired up a Litchi mission they’d run successfully a few times before, the pilot and observer watched the aircraft until they were happy it was following the route. Once satisfied, they got distracted and neither noticed that the aircraft was drifting in the wind until it was too far away to see well enough to orientate it visually for manual flight. They attempted to initiate RTH but had either forgotten this requires GPS or failed to notice the loss of GPS.
Easy to sit in judgement from the comfort of the internets, but it does seem complacency may have set in.
I guess the CAA aren’t going to come down on them too hard (publicly) as they need these incidents to be reported … but I’d be surprised if their insurance will pay out.
During my PfCO I had to demonstrate a safe return to home in atti mode.
The OSC Ops Manual will soon be required to have this type of training practice included, and more than likely that training will need to be logged.
The AAIB have made that recommendation and this will more than likely result in some form of statutory notice from the CAA.
Okay, now I’ve read the full report I take (some of) it back. GPS was lost on the first manoeuvre, climbing straight up. The pilot noticed but just kept banging away at the RTH button as it drifted away behind some trees.
I can well imagine the feeling they’d have had in the pit of their stomach as they watched it go.