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Yorkshire Air Ambulance has dangerous near miss with drone

Yorkshire Air Ambulance Credit: @YorkshireAirAmb

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance has confirmed that their crew were subject to a near miss with a drone on its way back from a mission last night.

The incident happened around 6.50pm as the helicopter was returning to base, flying at around 1,300ft. The drone was flying three times the legal height limit.

Chief Pilot commented:

We cannot stress enough the seriousness of what happened last night to the crew of HM98. It was only due to the vigilance of our front seat paramedic spotting the drone, and the rapid reaction of our Pilot that the crew avoided a direct collision.

"It is estimated that they missed the drone by less than 3 metres in the end. The consequences don’t bear thinking about if a direct strike had occurred. We’d be telling a very different story today if it had. Whether the operator is aware or not, they have put the lives of our crew in extreme danger.”

Steve continues

“The most ironic thing about all of this is that we spent most of yesterday working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to help them create a new ‘Drone Awareness’ short film to help highlight the dangers & issues of operating drones, and to make users more aware of aircraft operators like us and the Police.”

– Steve Waudby, Chief Pilot
Drone disrupting plane path Credit: PA Images

The maximum height the drone should have been operating at was 120m or 400ft. Whoever was operating the drone was breaking the law as it was flying over three times the height it should have been at.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance have notified the police as well as the CAA and the AAIB. Detectives have appealed to the drone operator to come forward and identify themselves.

Air Ambulance Credit: PA Images

Peter Sunderland, Chairman of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance added “Firstly I would like to pay tribute to our Pilot – his prompt and professional actions avoided the most unthinkable disaster.

We are proud to have a team of highly skilled, ex-military Pilots as part of our team, and last night’s incident just goes to highlight how important these professional Pilots are to the Charity.

Also to the two paramedics and Doctor who were on board – all of their intense training over the years came to fruition last night and I am proud of how they handled this incident. The crew are obviously shaken from what happened and we will be supporting them in any way we can.”

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson said: “It is against the law to fly a drone above 400ft (120m) or close to airports without permission and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including up to five years in prison.

Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations. The rules for flying drones are designed to keep all airspace users safe.