Predicting Helicopter Damage Caused by a Collision with an Unmanned Aerial System Using Explicit Finite Element Analysis

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With the rising number of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) flying in the sky, an increase in collisions with manned aircraft seems inevitable. Since these devices are permitted to operate in airspace which they share with rotorcraft, a helicopter is certainly not retained from the risk of colliding with a UAS. The only prevailing impact related certification requirement for rotorcraft is the §29.631, which is only applicable to all larger (Part 29) rotorcraft. This requirement states that the rotorcraft must be capable of safe continuation of the flight and/or safe landing after an impact with a 1 kg bird up to the rotorcraft’s maximum horizontal velocity. In this paper, simulations have been performed in explicit Finite Element software to assess how much damage a Part 29 compliant helicopter would sustain after colliding with a UAS. For this purpose, an Agusta A-109 helicopter windshield was impacted by a DJI Phantom III quadcopter UAS under various conditions. The results of the simulations showed that the windshield would sustain severe damage after the impact. Not only would the windshield break into dangerous fragments that could enter the cockpit, parts of the UAS would also penetrate the windshield. These items could strike the crew and a safe continuation of the flight and/or safe landing following the impact cannot be guaranteed. A similar level of safety compared to the bird strike requirement in the prevailing certification requirement is therefore not assured.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA SCITECH 2022 Forum
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62410-631-6
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventAIAA SCITECH 2022 Forum - virtual event
Duration: 3 Jan 20227 Jan 2022

Publication series

NameAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022


ConferenceAIAA SCITECH 2022 Forum

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


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