Henley Regatta drone crash could have killed someone, report finds

Image from the aircraft taken shortly before its loss of control. Credit: AAIB

A drone which crashed into a boat at the Henley Royal Regatta could have killed someone, a report has found.

The Alta X drone, which weighed 28 kilograms, had been supplying footage of the Regatta in June 2022, when its battery ran out. 

It hit a private boat which had six people on board. 

The drone hit the cabin of the boat and bent a handrail before falling into the water.

Damage to cabin roof and left side handrail of boat. Credit: AAIB

No one was injured but a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded that someone could have been killed.

It said: "Whilst returning to land following a trigger of the low battery voltage warning, the aircraft’s battery voltage depleted to the extent that controlled flight was no longer possible.

"The aircraft descended, in near free fall, and impacted an occupied private boat on the river.

"If the aircraft had struck a person on the boat, it is likely that fatal injuries would have occurred."

Alta X (not the accident aircraft) Credit: AAIB

The report continued: "The pilot did not replace the aircraft batteries when he had intended to, and a pre-flight check of their voltage before the accident flight was most likely not performed."

"In addition, the low voltage battery warning had been set to a level below that recommended by the manufacturer.

"Had the battery warning been set to the manufacturer’s recommended setting, the aircraft may have been landed safely under the pilot’s control."

According to the AAIB's findings, the aircraft was operating its sixth flight since the batteries had been changed, which was twice that intended by the pilot.