GPS loss kicked off fatal drone crash
On May 10 in Incheon, South Korea, a Schiebel aviation engineer was killed and two colleagues were injured when a Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 unmanned helicopter weighing 250-350 lbs crashed into their ground control van, possibly history’s first accidental drone death.
From sUAS News:
The South Korean military are reported to be investigating whether the jamming of GPS signals by North Korea could have caused the crash. There have been several noted jamming incidents since April 28th, including another incident on the 10th which forced a Coast Guard helicopter to abort take off at Gimpo airport. At least 4 aircraft landing at Inchon are reported to have had GPS failures as well.
Aircraft zapped by the high-powered jammer include 618 Korean passenger planes, 48 foreign passenger planes, including 17 U.S., 10 Japanese and six Chinese, and one U.S. military aircraft.
Schiebel has since confirmed that loss of GPS led to the crash, though the vehicle was designed to be able to operate safely without GPS:
In a statement supplied to New Scientist, Schiebel says its Camcopter S-100 drone, a 150-kilogram rotorcraft capable of 220 km/h flight, should have coped in any case because GPS can be lost for many reasons, such as an inability to access the positioning satellites due to obstruction by high buildings. The Camcopter has multiple inertial measurement units that “allow safe operation and recovery in the absence of GPS signals” the firm says.
“All information recovered to date indicates that after a loss of GPS signals to the aircraft’s receivers incorrect handling and omissions over a time period of a number of minutes, resulted in an unfortunate chain of events that ultimately led to the crash,” the statement says. Emergency procedures “to ensure a safe recovery in such a situation” do not appear to have been “correctly and adequately followed” it alleges.
The ongoing Korean investigation is said to be focusing on the cause of the GPS denial and e-forensics on the charred remains of the control electronics, little of which survived.