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Charleston Helicopter Crash Blamed On Private Drone

(Zero Hedge)  Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating a serious helicopter crash that may have been triggered by a drone Wednesday near the southern tip of Daniel Island, South Carolina, in what could be the first-ever drone-related crash of an aircraft in the United States.

The crash was initially reported on Wednesday by WCSC-TV, a CBS-affiliated television station for the Lowcountry area of South Carolina in the United States that is licensed to Charleston, which obtained a copy of the incident report from the police stating that a Robinson R22 helicopter struck a tree and crash-landed.

The private helicopter instructor told police, he was conducting a training exercise at approximately 3:30 p.m, when the incident occurred on the tip of Daniel Island. His student was practicing “low impact and hover taxi maneuvers” above undeveloped land on the island, as a white “DJI Phantom quad-copter” breached their airspace, the report states. The instructor immediately commandeered all flight controls from the student and attempted to avoid a potentially deadly air collision, that is when the tail rotor of the helicopter struck a tree, triggering a crash landing.

The student told the police they were at a maximum altitude of 50 feet when the quadcopter breached their airspace.

She said when the helicopter’s tail struck the tree, “several pieces of the helicopter hit surrounding brush causing the helicopter to turn on its side when it landed,” reported WCSC. Luckily, neither the pilot nor the student was injured, though the helicopter sustained severe damage.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced Friday it is opening an investigation into the accident, spokesman Chris O’Neil said. “The NTSB is aware of the pilot’s report that he was maneuvering to avoid a drone, but the NTSB has not yet been able to independently verify that information,” O’Neil said in a statement.

Read More: Charleston Chopper Crash Blamed On Private Drone