Bystander injury

From AAIB Bulletin 8/2022 (AAIB-28200). While a DJI Air 2S (Air2S) unmanned aircraft (UA) was being flown in a low hover over a group of children one of them attempted to grab it and their hand touched the rotor blades. The aircraft became destabilised, briefly lost height and injured the child. The pilot reflected that he should not have been flying his aircraft so close to the children.

Welfare Park is a public recreation space within a residential area of Huthwaite, Sutton-in-Ashfield. At the time of the incident, the UA was being flown over open ground toward the northern end of the park (see diagram). The closest dwellings were approximately 75 m from the incident site.

The Air2S UAS was covered by, and its operator responsible for compliance with, the UK regulations for UAS operations. The incident UAS’s operator was also acting as the remote pilot and was responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft, including compliance with the ANO, while it was in flight. As defined in CAP722D, in relation to the operation of the incident UAS, the injured child was an uninvolved person. The incident pilot held the appropriate authorisations to fly the Air2S under the A3 Open category, which required a minimum horizontal separation of 50m from uninvolved persons and 150m from areas used for residential, commercial, industrial or recreational purposes. These required separation minima were not maintained.

This incident occurred when a UA operated in the A3 Open category was flown closer to uninvolved persons than allowed for under the applicable regulations. Had the regulated horizontal separation minima been observed, the incident could not have occurred.

Leaving aside the issue of compliance with the regulations, under the circumstances the pilot involved does need to be commended for filing the report. From an HF perspective there are perhaps two comments to be made. Firstly, it is worth remembering that young children do have a habit of doing something unexpected and normally at a critical moment. It sounds like they were not “involved persons” so irrespective of what the rules require, giving them a wide berth would have been recommended. To have briefed them and brought them into the fold as involved persons would have been even better still if the area had been suitable for flights under the A3 Open Category. They could have learnt from the watching the flights and being involved. The second comment is that however small the drone is, it can still physically harm someone. It is easy to think one as small as the DJI Mini Air2S is too small to harm anyone, but it isn’t. The main element in this report is simply to remember that the rules are there for a reason! A link to the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft Code can be found here: