Switzerland - Collision between a drone and a helicopter. What should a drone pilot be aware of?

LOCARNO – Swiss media reported a drone collided with an helicopter in the Verzasca Valley (Canton Ticino), over the Dam on 25th May. It seems, the Swiss Security Investigation Service (SUST) has identified the drone pilot, probably a 42-year-old Swiss.

The accident happened at 3,280 feet high, above the sea level, over Verzasca Dam, reports the Basler Zeitung. Lake Vogorno created by the Verzasca Dam is located at an altitude of 1,541 feet and the incident took place at around 2,000 feet, so the drone would have been around 1,640 feet above the dam.

The helicopter hit could be able to return safely to its base in Locarno, fortunately. Helicopter blades showed signs of impact damage but no traces of blood, that means the probability to have hit a bird is zero-value.

The 42-year-old drone pilot has been reported to the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), also called the Bundesamt für Zivilluftfahrt (BAZL), which according to French drone site, Helimicro might suggest that he is a professional drone operator. Switzerland does not have specific regulation for commercial drone pilots. According to the FOCA/ BAZL, drones that weigh less than 30 kilograms can be used without authorization in Switzerland, except in areas with restrictions or no-fly zones.

No matter what, the Swiss drone rules say that a pilot has to maintain direct eye contact with the aerial device at all times, or must have a second person available who can take over control.

The FOCA/ BAZL website reports:

“Regulations also apply to the operation of lightweight drones. Although you may in principle fly your drone anywhere other than in the nature conservation zones depicted on the special FOCA map of restricted areas (RPAS Map), you still have to observe certain basic rules. You must maintain eye contact with your drone at all times and observe the principle of protection of privacy. Although you are allowed to operate your drone above gatherings of people, if you cause an accident you will be liable for any resulting damage. In the case of lightweight drones too, the operator is always responsible for their safe use.”



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