Australia: Helicopter and drone in near miss

A Westpac rescue helicopter and a drone nearly collided in the skies above Newcastle, sparking an investigation by the safety watchdog.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will interview the helicopter crew who narrowly avoided hitting the drone over the Newcastle suburb of Broadmeadow at about 10pm on Saturday.

The helicopter was returning to base after delivering a patient to the John Hunter Hospital.

The incident occurred at about 1000 feet (300 metres).

Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service spokesman Glen Ramplin said the crew initially believed the lights of the drone were from an aircraft in the distance.

But when they realised it was closer, they were forced to take evasive action.

Mr Ramplin said while drones were becoming more prevalent, this one was flying well above its 400ft (120m) flight restriction.

“If we had run into it, it could have caused the aircraft to crash,” he said.

He hopes the incident would make drone operators more aware of the regulations.

The bureau’s report is expected in June.



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