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The study showed the need to develop sense and avoidance technology to avoid mid-air collisions, D’Souza said.
OSU and ASSURE members Mississippi State University, Montana State University and Wichita State University were the primary researchers on the study.
While the effect of bird strikes on airplanes is well documented, little is known about the effects of small unmanned drones with stronger materials hitting aircraft, according to Marty Rodgers, ASSURE director and a Mississippi State researcher.
“The results of this work are critical to the safety of commercial air travel here in the United States and around the world,” he said in a statement.
Researchers evaluated the potential impact of drones weighing 2.7 pounds to 8 pounds on a single-aisle commercial jet and on a business jet, according to OSU.
“Even small unmanned aircraft systems can do significant damage to engines,” D’Souza said in a statement.
In future tests, researchers will focus on collisions with private planes, helicopters and commercial turbofan engines, ASSURE said.
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Studies were expected to continue through 2021.
While the research studied the potential for damage to an aircraft, it did not estimate the probability of a collision between an unmanned drone and a plane, D’Souza said.
The FAA has reported a rising number of pilot sightings of small drones as the popularity of the small unmanned vehicles has soared.
Drone users are required to operate by altitude and space restrictions.