Air 1 had a very close call almost a month ago, and police are still trying to find out who was behind it. On July 8, around 10 p.m. Air 1 was responding to a call in the downtown area when it had a near midair collision.
The pilot, Const. Brian Griffith said it whizzed by, about 30-40 feet away.
“I wasn’t sure what it was, whether it was a bird, but it was close enough that I could clearly identify it as a quad-copter, white, with red lights. It was close.”
Air 1 was going about 180 km/hr while the drone was going in the opposite direction. Griffith figures the closure rate was in excess of 200 km/hr.
“It could come through the windshield,” Griffith told reporters. “It could incapacitate the pilot.”
“Our tactical flight officers are trained to fly in the event the pilot is incapacitated that they could get on the ground. But it could significantly damage the aircraft. In addition if it went through the tail rotor system, or into the main rotor or was ingested into the engine, it could cause a complete failure.”
Police are looking for the operator of the drone, just to treat it as a teaching opportunity. “I don’t believe that they’re doing it maliciously. It was probably just a lack of knowledge and the risk they were posing by operating it like that.”
Griffith said the drone was a complete surprise because they were flying at 1,500 feet. The most altitude a drone should fly at is 300 feet according to recommendations from Transport Canada. What Griffith would like to see is those recommendations have more teeth.
“The recommendations that Transport Canada has published on their link, (have) those recommendations turn into regulation. It would just allow us in the event somebody is doing it maliciously, then there is repercussions.”