What happens when a drone hits an airplane wing

An interesting video with actual evidence and not assumptions - brings the risks of flying in the wrong places at the wrong heights very much into perspective! Worth a watch

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Indeed. You can certainly say goodbye to your drone. :frowning:


It makes one aware of the need to ensure height and location rules are followed. Its actually quite sobering to think that could be a plane full of people…


With the wash from a jumbo jet, would a drone be able to get anywhere near the wing of a plane?


That’s a really good point. It would be dragged over or under by the wash!

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I would assume so, I’d be amazed if a 1KG bit of flying plastic would get anywhere near it in the real world?

I’m no scientist, so don’t quote me on this, but surely a jumbo jet pushing forward at 200mph through the skies is going to disrupt a wayward DJI Phantom?!


The disruption of air only starts as it passes over the leading edge. A drone could hit the leading edge just as easily as a bird would.

That said it’s one of the strongest parts on passenger aircraft and the composite skin of nose cone or winglets would be more likely to receive more damage.


I work in aerospace and the thickness of a leading edge skin is only 2mm at its thickest.
It would be chemically etched to make it thinner (down to 1,2mm) in places to keep the strength and save weight.
I am sure bird strikes do occur on the wings as well as in the engines.
A usual test is to send a frozen chicken into an turbine engine whilst it is functioning.
Whether its a bird or a drone, i reckon serious damage would be caused by a drone. I can totally understand the concerns of the FAA and EASA.


I cannot comment on the physics of whether a drone would, be swept past a wing but can fully understand the danger of one getting into an engine. In fact, given the apparent fragility of the turbine blades I am always surprised that there are not more incidences of foreign bodies being sucked into engines. Apart from birds in the air there is also so much stuff that blows around when the plane is on the ground. You would think that just taxiing to the runway would run the risk of plastic bags etc being drawn in. Perhaps lightweight things like that are and just pass through and get vapourised in the combustion stage.

I think if this were the case my car windscreen would remain bug free … but it doesn’t. :wink:

Actually - going back to my plane flying days - nor did the leading edge of the wing or the prop.