The Wiltshire Air Ambulance was involved in a near miss with a drone in the centre of Bath on Wednesday afternoon, 24th January, it has been revealed.
As the charity’s Bell 429 helicopter lifted from the Recreation Ground at 4.20pm, the crew spotted a drone that was travelling at the same height as the aircraft, approximately 250 feet, less than 20 metres to their left-hand side.
The Wiltshire Air Ambulance had been attending a medical emergency in the city centre.
Both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and police have been told about the incident.
Richard Miller, Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s safety manager, said: “We want drone users to have fun with their drones but to do so safely and legally.
“However, if a drone was to strike a helicopter it is likely to cause significant damage due to the solid metal parts it has and a solid battery.”
“In this instance, we were fortunate the aircrew were alert to the danger and thankfully everyone was unharmed.
“However, we want drone users to help us to ensure our team and lifesaving operation isn’t put at unnecessary risk.”
Drones that weigh less than 250g and do not have cameras don’t need to be registered, though most users are now required by law to register themselves as a drone operator – this currently costs £10.33 per year. Failure to do so could result in a £1,000 fine.
If the drone is heavier than 250g then the individual pilot also needs to register and pass an exam.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published The Drone Code to assist users to fly safely.
In addition, drone users can use the app Drone Assist to issue and review NOTAMs (notice to airmen), as well as no-fly zone notifications, ground hazards and the latest map data.
Mr Miller added: “The app is free to download and is a must-have for drone users.
“It is billed as the one-stop shop to help drone users pre-plan flights and to operate safely.”