UAS/Helicopter Collision Damage Odds and UAS Insurance Rates

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EDIT: This thread is generated by @DoomMeister to move a discussion to its own thread from this thread Helicopter Scare/Transport Canada Investigating. This discussion has merit, but moved way off topic from the original topic. Please feel free to continue this discussion.

Really not good if the LiPo batteries hit the crowd spewing fire! Also, even if you were not at fault, you would spend a fortune on legal fees defending yourself from a lawsuit or suits you would surely be named in.😩

Riddle me this. How come full scale aviation doesn't have to deal with "lawsuits" when they crash down on people and property causing all manor of death and carnage???? Why is everyone concerned with a drone lawsuit, but not at all worried about a full-scale aviation crash lawsuit?

NONE of this "drone vs. full scale aviation" makes any sense whatsoever. It's like the 2-ton vehicle that crashes multiple times a year causing any number of deaths EVERY year is completely absolved of any "lawsuits," but the 3 lb. drone BETTER CARRY $2M insurance!!! AHHH!!

That's like insuring a tricycle for exactly the same amount as you would a semi. Makes zero sense.

Discuss.

D
 
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There I used to be thinking that real aircraft prop / rotor blades and even engines are tested for bird strikes for type approval. Seems to be a lot of over hyping of the 'damage' a little 1.5kg p3p/p4p could do. Drone or previously mentioned a 5-8KG goose etc.
 
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Riddle me this. How come full scale aviation doesn't have to deal with "lawsuits" when they crash down on people and property causing all manor of death and carnage???? Why is everyone concerned with a drone lawsuit, but not at all worried about a full-scale aviation crash lawsuit?

NONE of this "drone vs. full scale aviation" makes any sense whatsoever. It's like the 2-ton vehicle that crashes multiple times a year causing any number of deaths EVERY year is completely absolved of any "lawsuits," but the 3 lb. drone BETTER CARRY $2M insurance!!! AHHH!!

That's like insuring a tricycle for exactly the same amount as you would a semi. Makes zero sense.

Discuss.

D

What makes you think commercial and general aviation doesn’t have lawsuits resulting from crashes? A series of lawsuites almost killed general aviation in the ‘80s and ‘90d. It took an act of Congress to save it.

You think it can’t happen to The consumer UAV market? Think again.




 
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What makes you think commercial and general aviation doesn’t have lawsuits resulting from crashes? A series of lawsuites almost killed general aviation in the ‘80s and ‘90d. It took an act of Congress to save it.

You think it can’t happen to The consumer UAV market? Think again.





From one of your articles, "This type of plane crash compensation currently equals approximately $170,000 per passenger. "

So why $2M drone insurance? Do you think a UAV will take out 11.76 lives?

These arguments always seem to completely and utterly ignore scale. I think it only fair that we scale insurance requirements by weight, lives lost, damage done, and injuries - you know, like every other insurance underwriter does on the entire planet.

Let's take all 4 of those metrics from full scale aviation, and then scale it down based on a 3 lb. drone that has never taken a single life, caused almost no property damage and very few injuries. Methinks the realistic insurance policy would be about 1000 bucks with a premium of $3/year. No deductible.

D
 
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From one of your articles, "This type of plane crash compensation currently equals approximately $170,000 per passenger. "

So why $2M drone insurance? Do you think a UAV will take out 11.76 lives?

These arguments always seem to completely and utterly ignore scale. I think it only fair that we scale insurance requirements by weight, lives lost, damage done, and injuries - you know, like every other insurance underwriter does on the entire planet.

Let's take all 4 of those metrics from full scale aviation, and then scale it down based on a 3 lb. drone that has never taken a single life, caused almost no property damage and very few injuries. Methinks the realistic insurance policy would be about 1000 bucks with a premium of $3/year. No deductible.

D

The drone insurance companies take the risks into consideration when setting the rates. They have experts do it, not folks like us. I’m sure most of what you say about the risks is true, which is why you can get $1M of UAV insurance from Verifly and SkyWatch for $5 or $10 per flight when you need it. I think the $1M UAV insurance my employer maintains costs about $900/yr, and covers hull damage, which is damage to the drone, and covers me and my drone when I rent it to the company and fly it on company projects.

If a small drone hit an aircraft, it may not do much physical damage, but any responsible pilot would immediately divert to the nearest suitable airport to have the aircraft checked by a qualified mechanic. Any cost and financial loss caused by the UAV (fuel, replaced windscreens, passenger delays, etc. would be the responsibility of the UAV pilot (assuming he/she is at fault).

I’m not at all sure that a small UAV couldn’t bring down or damage an aircraft under the right conditions. A small piece of metal on the runway killed the Concord. It may be a one-in-a-million chance, but on the other hand, a dent in the leading edge of a wing or a scratch in the canopy of a helicopter would be expensive for most drone owners to fix. In any case, why risk it?
 
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The drone insurance companies take the risks into consideration when setting the rates. They have experts do it, not folks like us. I’m sure most of what you say about the risks is true, which is why you can get $1M of UAV insurance from Verifly and SkyWatch for $5 or $10 per flight when you need it.

Per flight or per job? I think you mean per job, yes? $10/flight would add up fast!




I think the $1M UAV insurance my employer maintains costs about $900/yr, and covers hull damage, which is damage to the drone, and covers me and my drone when I rent it to the company and fly it on company projects.

The irony here is that the hull is literally the most expensive damage that occurs in ANY drone collision. Granted, if you search the Internet you'll find 2 or 3 exceptions. But watch what happens if you make TWO hull claims. Your insurance will drop you like a potato.

I would tell your employer to drop the hull coverage and see if you can't cut that premium by 60%. You honestly don't want to make a claim for under $1,000 anyway, which is the cost of the hull.





If a small drone hit an aircraft, it may not do much physical damage, but any responsible pilot would immediately divert to the nearest suitable airport to have the aircraft checked by a qualified mechanic.

Do they do that for a bird strike?



Any cost and financial loss caused by the UAV (fuel, replaced windscreens, passenger delays, etc. would be the responsibility of the UAV pilot (assuming he/she is at fault).

What about the migrating goose? What does HE pay???? Who underwrites that?

Considering that there is no proof that any drone has struck any plane (and I'm talking "hold up in a court of law" proof. Not, "Pilot Bob is "pretty sure" he was struck by a drone so the FAA is knocking on your door" proof).

When you insure your car, ever notice that the DRIVER is part of the insurance equation??? Yet, somehow, drone insurance seems to skate right over that.

Ever notice when you get health insurance, the INSURED is part of the equation (weight, age, habits, etc.). Yet, somehow, drone insurance seems to skate right over that.

My point is that someone's not doing the math....I mean, REALLY not doing the math.





I’m not at all sure that a small UAV couldn’t bring down or damage an aircraft under the right conditions.

The problem is there is no evidence to support that statement. None.



A small piece of metal on the runway killed the Concord. It may be a one-in-a-million chance,

Oh my friend....your math is WAY off. In 2016 2.2M drones were sold world wide. That's just ONE year. Let's assume every one of those drones flew ONCE, and that there was ONE collision with full scale aviation. That would be 2.2M to one chance of a UAV collision in 2016. But you and I well know that total drone ownership world wide is closer to 10M (conservative guestimate). And you and I both know that even if half of those guys flew their drone once and parked it in the closet, the remaining half flew their drones AT LEAST 10 times on average. That's 100M flights with not a single plane or helicopter taken down. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that a UAV collision with Aviation is closer to 1 BILLION to one. And even then, the odds of TAKING DOWN a full scale aviation vehicle is probably closer to 100 billion to one.

With odds like that, UAV insurance should be WAY cheaper.


but on the other hand, a dent in the leading edge of a wing or a scratch in the canopy of a helicopter would be expensive for most drone owners to fix. In any case, why risk it?

Because the odds are a billion to one my drone will come in contact with a full scale aviation vehicle. And that assume a diligence level of ZERO. Add to the fact that I'm very diligent and cognizant of my environment, and the odds of collision - let alone "damage" - become a gazillion to one.

D
 
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I will weigh in on this since it was me involved in this incident.

First, the professional Transport Canada investigator who interviewed me following the incident turned out is a very experienced helicopter pilot. He told me my Phantom 4 could easily have caused damage to the Jet Ranger IF the helicopter had collided with my drone.
Damaged a main rotor blade, cracked or smashed the windscreen, or damaged the tail rotor....any of these things could result in an emergency situation for the Jet Ranger pilot.

Let's remember the helicopter was operating at an altitude of roughly 140 feet above a private property with close to 700 people attending a fund raising event.
An emergency situation at that altitude does not leave the helicopter pilot with much time to react.
The threat of a full crash was real.

NOTE:

As to the damage that can be caused by small things colliding with much larger things, I will refer to this example:

A friend of mine was flying in a Bell Jet Ranger as a passenger.....in the front seat to the left of the pilot.
The helicopter was flying at 400 feet over a river in bright sunlight in the early afternoon.
Suddenly, the pilot yelled: "Get your head down!"
Seconds later, a sea gull smashed into the windscreen and took out a section of the plexiglass.
Blood, bird guts and feathers everywhere.

The pilot declared an emergency and set the Jet Ranger down in a farmer's field.
The pilot did a great job.
The point here is........

Small things(like a Phantom 4) that collide with larger things(like aircraft or helicopters) can easily cause damage to the larger thing.

Some times, if an incident occurs, there is no damage if there is a collision, but things don't always work out that way.

Secondly, I will refer to the cost of my drone liability insurance. I pay $1,000 per year for the coverage I receive. $2 million liability coverage.
In Canada, I am not allowed to operate a drone business without having liability insurance coverage in place.
Transport Canada requires such insurance if I will be operating my drone over public events, vehicles, buildings and vessels.
In my business, I do a lot of real estate, public events, land development, and contract work.
Regularly flying over boats, vehicles, buildings, and people.
I know what my P4P weighs and I know the damage it would cause if something went wrong and it were to fall into a crowd of people or hit a boat or vehicle from an altitude of 350 feet.

Such liability insurance absolutely gives me peace of mind whenever and wherever I fly.
I'm glad to have it.

The $1,000 per year I pay seems a small price to pay when you consider the amount of the lawsuits that would result should a crash occur.

That's the bottom line.
 
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I will weigh in on this since it was me involved in this incident.

First, the professional Transport Canada investigator who interviewed me following the incident turned out is a very experienced helicopter pilot. He told me my Phantom 4 could easily have caused damage to the Jet Ranger IF the helicopter had collided with my drone.

With all due respect, while this statement seems intuitive, there is just no evidence to support it. In these conversation I find that my requests for evidence to support claims is met with a 0% compliance rate. Nobody has any evidence for any of these claims. To the contrary, helicopters and jet airliners have been colliding with geese weighing an order of magnitude more than our Phantom drones with damage so minor it didn't make the news. Only ONE TIME in HISTORY has a jet liner been taken down by geese, and this took an entire flock directly fed into the jet's engines.

You and I drive cars. Do we purport ourselves as "experts" on the subject of collision damage? Of course not. So why would you believe this pilot? Why would you not ask him for a shred of evidence to support his assertion?




Damaged a main rotor blade, cracked or smashed the windscreen, or damaged the tail rotor....any of these things could result in an emergency situation for the Jet Ranger pilot.

Are you sure? Do helicopters immediate engage an "emergency landing" when the windshield is cracked? Are you sure about that?

Contrary to your statement, evidence exists of MANY mid-flight damages that did NOT call for an emergency landing. Even losing an entire engine doesn't mean the aircraft has to land right there and then. That said...

We still haven't seen any evidence that a 3lb. drone can even get close to a rotor (rotor wash) to crack it, let alone crack it on impact. Same goes with tail rotor. The drone would have to impact the tail rotor at a 90° angle. What's to say that the tail rotor wouldn't destroy the drone incurring little damage to itself?

My point of all this is evidence, evidence, evidence. Without evidence, all we have is conjecture. And to the point of insurance rates, it seems insurance rates for drones are being set based on the "wild guess" of what damage MIGHT be done.




Let's remember the helicopter was operating at an altitude of roughly 140 feet above a private property with close to 700 people attending a fund raising event.
An emergency situation at that altitude does not leave the helicopter pilot with much time to react.
The threat of a full crash was real.

I disagree. Helicopters crash many times per years withOUT the aid of drones. That is a REAL statistic. So why on God's Earth is a 2-ton behemoth with a high crash rate allowed to fly OVER PEOPLE without so much as a care in the world? Yet a 3 lb. drone....OH MY GOD!!! KILL IT!!! It's ridiculous.


NOTE:

As to the damage that can be caused by small things colliding with much larger things, I will refer to this example:

A friend of mine was flying in a Bell Jet Ranger as a passenger.....in the front seat to the left of the pilot.
The helicopter was flying at 400 feet over a river in bright sunlight in the early afternoon.
Suddenly, the pilot yelled: "Get your head down!"
Seconds later, a sea gull smashed into the windscreen and took out a section of the plexiglass.
Blood, bird guts and feathers everywhere.

The pilot declared an emergency and set the Jet Ranger down in a farmer's field.
The pilot did a great job.

Okay....so how did they get the helicopter back to the airport? Did they tow it because of a smashed windscreen? OR...did they clean up the blood and feathers and head on their merry way to the shop to get the windscreen replaced?



The point here is........

Small things(like a Phantom 4) that collide with larger things(like aircraft or helicopters) can easily cause damage to the larger thing.

Agreed. BUT...how often do these collisions happen? AND, How much damage is done???

Evidence?




Some times, if an incident occurs, there is no damage if there is a collision, but things don't always work out that way.

Thank you! My point all along has been, even if a P4P DOES collide with an aircraft, there's no evidence to show that the P4P will cause damage 100% of the time. This is based on real-world bird collision data.



Secondly, I will refer to the cost of my drone liability insurance. I pay $1,000 per year for the coverage I receive. $2 million liability coverage.

In a thousand years, all litigation aside, how could your P4P possibly cause $2M in real-world damage?

Your policy protects you against LAWSUITS, NOT DAMAGE. That point needs to be made perfectly clear.


In Canada, I am not allowed to operate a drone business without having liability insurance coverage in place.
Transport Canada requires such insurance if I will be operating my drone over public events, vehicles, buildings and vessels.
In my business, I do a lot of real estate, public events, land development, and contract work.
Regularly flying over boats, vehicles, buildings, and people.
I know what my P4P weighs and I know the damage it would cause if something went wrong and it were to fall into a crowd of people or hit a boat or vehicle from an altitude of 350 feet.

You fly over crowds of people? Well then all bets are off. I fly where there are NO people. So damage is limited to whatever buildings and/or vehicles may be below me. You didn't say you flew over people. That changes everything. Even then, a 3 lb. drone at terminal velocity would have to hit someone in the exact right way to cause more than cursory damage. I'll cite real world data as evidence of this. Despite several drones falling directly into crowds, nobody has been killed or hospitalized. Those taken to the hospital were quickly treated and released for minor injuries. This, based on all available evidence.




Such liability insurance absolutely gives me peace of mind whenever and wherever I fly.
I'm glad to have it.

Well...if you're flying over crowds of people, that policy protects you against lawsuits more than anything.




The $1,000 per year I pay seems a small price to pay when you consider the amount of the lawsuits that would result should a crash occur.

That's the bottom line.

Except for the elephant in the room, you haven't cited a single grain of evidence to support one thing you've said here. And really, THAT is my point. My point is that evidence for all this "drone carnage" just doesn't exist anywhere.

Again, I say all this with all due respect.

D
 
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Just 3 points here:

1. If a Transport Canada investigator( who is an ex-military helicopter pilot with lots of flight hours under his belt) tells me about the damage a P4P can potentially do to a helicopter if there is a collision, I listen.
That's it.

2. Liability insurance is mandatory for anyone using their drone as part of a business in which flights are conducted over buildings, vehicles, animals, vessels, and/or people.
This insurance protects you against potential lawsuits.

3. Someone asked what happened to the helicopter involved in the 'seagull incident' .
Following the seagull strike and the smashed windscreen, the pilot skillfully made an emergency landing in a field.

After the landing, a replacement windscreen was installed and the helicopter was flown away.

A final point:

People are free to determine if they require insurance coverage based on the type of flying they do with their drone.
Those of us who have made the determination they require such coverage feel quite confident they have made the correct decision.
 
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In my previous post, yes the cost of insurance from Verifly and the like for is typically per hour within a specified flight area and radius, not per flight as I said. Just a poor choice of words on my part.

In any case, the point I was trying to make is UAV insurance is relatively cheap and UAV pilots should fly with insurance. I get $2.5M of liability insurance for $75/yr with my AMA membership as long as I fly within their safety rules, which I do. This is of course for my recreational flying.

My company’s $900/yr, $1M UAV insurance covers my flights, including hull damage to my UAV, and I’m glad to have it. I’m not going to suggest that they save a few buck by dropping the hull damage coverage.

I also use Verifly when I do my own side-gig commercial flights.

I’m less concerned about bringing down a manned aircraft than I am about injuring a person on the ground, causing a car accident, damaging property, etc. I have personal experience where such things may have happened if things had gone just a little differently, and this was not due to reckless flying. It was due to UAV equipment failures, stupid people walking into the flight operations area, etc. UAVs don’t tend to crash on the ground directly below them. They travel before hitting whatever they are going to hit. Also, I’m old and know that accidents happen in spite of our best efforts, so I tend to be very cautious.

Right now, since the UAV insurance industry is still relatively new, insurance rates may seem higher than they need to be to some. The rates will probably come down over time as competition increases between providers and better UAV accident statistics become available to the insurance bean counters. In any case, making sure my flights are insured is on my preflight checklist.
 

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